A sensor spinning atop a Google self-driving vehicle

Autonomous vehicles may lead to UK driving test changes

Driving test changes are being considered for the UK in response to the development of driverless cars.

Several reforms to lessons and practical tests are already being piloted in a bid to make them more realistic.

Further alterations are also being considered that will account for the upcoming commercial rollout of driverless car technology.

The Department for Transport's (DfT) motoring services strategy stated: "DVSA will reform the driving test (and, thereby, pre-test learning) to encourage more real-life driving experience and ensure that it takes account of local variations and increasing vehicle automation."

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity RAC Foundation, said the policy shows that ministers "have their eyes firmly on the road ahead".

"The day will come when levels of automation could mean that programming the destination might be the only thing we do before sitting back and enjoying the ride in our driverless car,” he said.

"We are not there yet, but it's good to see the rapidly changing face of motoring being considered."

Transport minister Lord Ahmad said: "The way in which we drive is changing. The [motoring] agencies must adapt to the way we live now."

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

Test drives will begin on a small number of local roads, before pilots on motorways to assess safety are carried out in 2016.

Some engineers suggest that driverless cars, which can alert drivers to accidents and traffic jams, could eventually prevent 95 per cent of crashes.

AA president Edmund King said: "These are generally sensible proposals. Greater driving test flexibility will ease the roadblock on new drivers. We hear much about school tests in the news, but in many respects the driving test is just as important a life skill as academic tests."

A recent poll showed that 65 per cent of British motorists believe a human should always be in control of a vehicle despite the development of driverless cars.

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