The Chief Executive of Highways England says that there may come a day when human-driven cars could be banned from fully-automated motorways and other main roads because they will be unable to communicate with autonomous vehicles and make journeys “hazardous” to other motorists.
Jim O’Sullivan (pictured) told the Telegraph this could happen in around 30 years’ time, because “in safety terms you couldn’t permit it any longer”.
The report says the roll-out of driverless cars and a future in which vehicles will communicate with each other to avoid accidents and reduce traffic jams “raises potentially profound questions for motoring enthusiasts who enjoy more traditional forms of transportation”.
Mr O’Sullivan told the paper that for a “period of time we will have what is called a mixed economy” and conventional motor cars were a “long way from being phased off the strategic road network”, but he added: “Ultimately I can see a world in the very distant future where they don’t come out onto the strategic road network.
“Do you know what? Classic cars are not a lot of fun on a motorway if you have ever driven one.
“I think that classic cars are something people will continue to enjoy for many years to come. I can’t see a problem with continuing to operate classic cars.”
When the paper asked him how far in the future he envisioned such a change taking place, he told it, “I think 30 or 50 years from now. But then of course 30 or 50 years from now a fully autonomous vehicle that gets built tomorrow may be a classic car anyway.
Mr O’Sullivan also said that speed limits could be increased to 80 mph on motorways, but that public opinion was against it. He said some stretches of the motorway are capable of handling a higher speed limit, “Dependant on driver skill which is a different issue, there are parts of the network that could probably be.
“We have not done a formal safety analysis but there are parts of the network that subject to a safety analysis could probably operate at 80 miles an hour.
“I think that has more to do with public opinion and social views than it has with the technology of vehicles.”