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19 August 2020, 10:20 | Updated: 19 August 2020, 10:35
Motorists could be allowed to take their hands off the wheel while driving on motorways by Spring.
The future of transport is about to change dramatically, as hands-free driving could become a reality in a matter of months.
New government plans - published by the Department of Transport - would see ‘lane-keeping’ systems introduced on motorways in the UK.
This technology controls a car's steering to keep it in lane for extended periods of time, and would allow motorists to take their hands off the wheel legalised for the first time.
While drivers would have to be ready to take back control of the vehicle at any moment, they might also be allowed to send a text message or even watch a film.
Reports suggest these changes could be given the go ahead for speeds of up to 70mph as early as spring next year.
The plans come after the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) technology was recently approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), of which the UK is a part of.
And now the government is calling for evidence to decide if it can safely implement the technology, with the consultation closing on 27 October.
Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: "Automated technology could make driving safer, smoother and easier for motorists and the UK should be the first country to see these benefits, attracting manufacturers to develop and test new technologies."
The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders has also praised the move, saying the technology could improve safety.
They estimate it could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save up to 3,900 lives over ten years.
If the systems were approved, there would have to be a change to the current laws which state that drivers have to be in control of a vehicle at all times.
Meanwhile, car manufacturers are continuing to develop fully-autonomous cars which could be on the roads within the next few years.
For drivers of these ‘automated vehicles’, responsibility for the safety of the car and any accidents would lie with the manufacturer once the systems have been switched on.