Hastings Direct news: driverless cars
While the roads in the UK are some of the safest in the world, new data suggests there has been an increase in the number of road traffic deaths. One day soon, London's roads could soon look like a set of a sci-fi film, as Google enters talks to trial driverless cars in the UK capital. Meanwhile, some insight was shed into how people buy cars, with research revealing just how many motorists buy a car without test driving it first. And London roads were in the news for a second time this week with calls for the proposed cycle routes to consider all road users.
Number of deaths on UK roads increases, data suggests
Provisional data from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggests the number of people dying on roads in the UK has increased by 3%, with 1,780 deaths last year.
AA president Edmund King called for more action as he explained to the BBC that the number of deaths is the "equivalent of three plane crashes."
However, it would appear the number of deaths involving drivers who were over the legal alcohol limit has plateaued, separate DfT figures suggest.
"Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world but we cannot be complacent on road safety and are determined to do more," Roads Minister Andrew Jones said.
"We launched our road safety plan last year which includes plans for tougher penalties for people using mobile phones while driving, extra money to crack down on drug-drivers and funding to train the next generation of cyclists," he added.
Google could trial driverless cars in London
Government officials have held discussions with Google over trialling driverless cars in the UK's capital.
If Google does decide to go ahead, it would be the first time the technology giant has extensively tested its driverless vehicles outside of the US.
London's Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring, has been holding the meetings with Google. Speaking to the Independent, she said: "It's going to have to work in big cities so why don't we start trialling it now? Google have said they are focused on the States, but they're starting to think about going elsewhere so we're in active discussions."
"It is still very early days but we would be keen for trials to happen in London whenever Google are ready to move them into other countries," Dedring noted.
In July 2015, The Telegraph reported that all of the 14 driverless car accidents recorded to date had been caused by human drivers.
Research suggests three quarters of a million British drivers buy a car without test driving it
Three quarters of a million motorists may have bought one of the 7.2 million used cars sold in the UK last year without having first taken it for a test drive, or even started the engine, research suggests.
A webuyanycar.com survey of more than 1,000 UK car owners found that 10% of respondents admitted buying a car without taking it for a test drive and around 6% merely turned on the car's engine.
However, it wasn't just drivers of used cars, as the survey also revealed just over 10% of new car buyers admitted not test driving an equivalent model.
Reasons for not taking a potential car for a test drive included a lack of confidence or not knowing what to look for, with one in three respondents giving this as their explanation.
FTA insists London cycle superhighways must consider all road users
Cycling in London has trebled in 15 years and it is expected that cycling to work will soon overtake commuting by car, so consultation has started on improvements for cycling, pedestrian and road.
Included in the improvements are the Mayor of London's proposals for new cycle superhighways throughout London, which will use separated tracks or low-traffic roads and will have routes from Acton and Swiss Cottage to central London, Elephant and Castle and Canary Wharf.
Although supporting the improvement of safety for cyclists, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said the proposals must take all road users into consideration.
"We are already seeing massive delays on Lower Thames Street due to the construction of the East-West Cycle Superhighway," noted FTA's head of policy for London, Natalie Chapman.
She continued: "This is resulting in some companies putting more vans and lorries on London's roads to deliver the same quantity of goods, either to comply with the maximum shifts required under EU Drivers' Hours rules or to maintain customer service levels.
"This is not good for emissions, congestion, transport costs or indeed safety. And this is not a temporary situation — the loss of capacity will be permanent."
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