Driverless technology will not become 'the norm' for at least a decade according to most Brits in the new poll

Driverless vehicles worry Brits as UK automotive sector soars

65 per cent of British motorists believe a human should always be in control of a vehicle despite the development of driverless cars, according to a new poll.

In a survey of 1,000 British drivers, more than a third (34 per cent) said they thought the technology was a bad idea, with 45 per cent unsure.

When asked to predict when driverless technology will become the norm, the median time given was ‘more than a decade away’.

The research was commissioned by IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

The organisation's chief executive, Sarah Sillars, said: "Intelligent cars will deliver a step change in road safety by targeting the human errors we make from time to time.

"At IAM RoadSmart we believe a well-trained driver and an ever-vigilant car is a win-win scenario for the future."

The study also found that the best liked aspect of driverless cars would be if drivers behind were not able to get too close to them, with 90 per cent in favour of this.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans in March's Budget for trials which will allow driverless cars on motorways next year.

Yesterday, Volvo announced it would begin testing autonomous cars with real people on real roads in real traffic situations in London from early next year. The Swedish car-maker described the project as the ‘most ambitious’ autonomous car experiment to date.

Tests of 'truck platooning' are also due to be carried out on motorways, which would see lorries travel in a tightly packed convoy that improves fuel economy by reducing aerodynamic drag.

A two-carriage platoon of driverless trucks drove from Belgium to Rotterdam earlier this month as part of a challenge to demonstrate the viability of automated freight transport.

Proposals sweeping away regulations that prevent autonomous driving are expected to be brought forward this summer, which would allow driverless cars to take to the roads by 2020.

Taking the lead in R&D for driverless technology could boost the UK’s automotive sector which has already seen increases in production capacity over the last year.

A car is now built in the UK every 16 seconds after a huge increase in production, new figures have shown.

More than 159,000 cars rolled off production lines in March, almost 10 per cent more than in the same month last year, and the highest figure for 12 years.

More than 440,000 cars were built in the first quarter of 2016, a 10.3 per cent increase on last year, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Exports also grew by 11 per cent, slightly more than the home market, with the SMMT predicting record levels of production by 2020.

Yet the industry is still facing serious concerns including the impact of a British exit from the European Union (EU) and the effect on steel supplies if Tata’s plants close.

BMW recently warned that leaving the EU could be seriously damaging to not just the automotive sector, but the future of the UK’s technology and manufacturing sectors as a whole.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said British steel was a major supplier to car firms and wholesale closure of plants would have a ‘significant’ impact.

Manufacturers will already be looking at other options and taking steps to make sure there is no break in production, he said.

"UK car plants were at their busiest for 12 years in March, with a vehicle rolling off production lines every 16 seconds thanks to heightened international demand for British-built cars.

"Much will depend on economic and political conditions in key markets but, with several brand new global models starting production here in the first quarter alone, the prospects for future growth look bright."

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