2023 Automotive Sustainability Report

Connected Vehicles

Future Of Highways

Future Of Highways

Direct communication between vehicles and infrastructure will ensure safer and more efficient traffic flows, with great benefits for drivers, pedestrians, the environment and the economy. To help develop connected and autonomous vehicles in 2015, the government announced £100 million in funding, to be match-funded by industry.

The first £20 million is to be spent on collaborative R&D projects, as well as a feasibility study which will examine:

  • Interaction with other road users
  • Public acceptance
  • Safety and cyber security to ensure that projects are safe and secure by design
  • Assistance for an ageing population
  • Trials of vehicles
  • Demonstrations of systems through modelling
  • Rapid changes to the environment
  • Collection and analysis of data

To support growth in this area, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have established the new joint policy unit, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV).

The Centre will co-ordinate government policy on driverless cars and connected technology.

C-CAV is currently working on a range of new technological developments, including plans to test new roadside communication technology to improve traffic flow and safety through ‘connected corridors’.

Regulations are currently being reviewed to remove barriers to the evolution of these technologies, and ensure that automated vehicles comply with road traffic law. Government intends to amend national legislation by 2017, international legislation by 2018, to facilitate the production of semi- and fully autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle safety

Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies not only ease the task of driving, but importantly also have the potential to reduce significantly the risk of serious accidents.

The motor industry is investing heavily in such technologies: data from SMMT and JATO Dynamics shows that 30.7% of new cars registered in 2015 were fitted with safety-enhancing collision warning systems as standard, with the technology offered as an option on an additional 27.4% of cars. Other technologies such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and blind spot monitoring are also surging in popularity.


The potential benefits to society are significant: a KPMG report, commissioned by SMMT in 2015, found that driverless technologies could see the number of serious accidents fall by more than 25,000, saving 2,500 lives every year, by 2030. Besides improving safety, these cars also offer the scope to reduce congestion-induced stress, providing drivers with more free time and allowing them to be more productive.

It is estimated that the annual saving to consumers by the end of the next decade could be as high as £40 billion, as motorists will be able to multi-task while behind the wheel, get to their destinations more quickly, and save money on fuel and insurance.



With the emergence of connected and autonomous technology, which will be more efficient and reduce congestion, the industry is continuing to push the boundaries of progress. For new technologies to become commonplace, the development of new infrastructures, a conducive regulatory environment and highly skilled workers are needed.

Vehicle safety has improved dramatically over the last decade, with manufacturers committing to improve the safety performance of vehicles. Euro NCAP, the European car safety assessment programme which crash-tests vehicles, is an important non-compulsory mechanism that helps manufacturers to build ever-safer, more intelligent cars. It now devotes a proportion of a vehicle’s overall safety score to the implementation of collision avoidance systems.

In 2014, Euro NCAP added autonomous emergency braking to its safety rating scheme. This tests the ability of the vehicle to avoid rear-end collisions with the vehicle in front, and the assessment is being developed to cover head-on and junction collisions by 2020. From 2016, Euro NCAP also rewards vehicles that can avoid collisions with pedestrians, with the same being introduced for cyclists from 2018.

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