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Driverless cars to hit British roads in six months’ time but it’s a long road to travel before safety fears are left behind

Driverless cars are set to hit British roads at the start of next year as the Government announced it will allow the first trials of vehicles that owners can sit in as passive passengers.

Business Secretary Vince Cable this morning said he was keen for Britain to become a pioneer in the technology. It comes after the Government pledged in the Autumn Statement last year to ensure Britain’s ‘legislative and regulatory framework supports the world’s car companies to develop and test driverless cars in the UK.’

But despite the major boost for driverless technology, Britons it seems are not enamoured by the prospect. According to a new study from Churchill Car Insurance, 56 per cent of respondents said they would not purchase a computerised car while a quarter believe they will not be safe.

Driverless cars: The technology will be tested on British roads from next year

Driverless cars: The technology will be tested on British roads from next year

Malfunction is the biggest fear, with three in five of people fearing the computer may be unreliable in their autonomous vehicle.

More than half fear the lack of human control over the vehicle and a third fear cyber security problems such as hacking.

Nearly a third believe commuting times will increase, with only 17 per cent believing there will be a decrease.

Steve Barrett, head of Churchill Car Insurance, said: ‘Driverless cars have a long way to go before they win people’s confidence.

‘Education on issues such as safety standards, including computer ethics is needed, as well as a re-think on existing road rules and amendments to insurance regulation.

‘It is still early days however, so a certain amount of scepticism around such a significant development is to be expected. It is also still too early to be able to assess the implications a fully driverless car will have on insurance.’

AA president Edmund King said that a recent survey of more than 23,000 AA members showed 43 per cent did not agree that UK legislation should be amended to even allow trials of the technology.

Vince Cable: The Business Secretary wants Britain to be at the forefront of driverless technology

Vince Cable: The Business Secretary wants Britain to be at the forefront of driverless technology

Ministers have previously admitted the current Highway Code and rules of the road are inadequate for the new generation of vehicles which pilot themselves.

In the U.S. driverless cars are only allowed on roads in certain states if someone sits in the driver’s seat.

The vehicles work by using GPS technology to locate the vehicle’s position on an electronic map.

In June, Google – who have been at the forefront of driverless technology – unveiled its computerised ‘hands-free’ self-driving bubble car, which has no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals.

Google plans to have prototypes ready to test later this summer and says the goal is for the car to ‘shoulder the entire burden of driving’.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: ‘The excellence of our scientists and engineers has established the UK as pioneers in the development of driverless vehicles through pilot projects.

‘Today’s announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society.’

He also announced that UK cities can now bid for a share of a £10million competition to host a driverless cars trial and up to three cities will be selected to host the trials from next year, as revealed in the Autumn Statement in December 2013.

Each project is expected to last between 18 and 36 months and start in January 2015.

Is security a threat to driverless cars?

Wil Rockall, director in KPMG’s cyber security team, said: ‘There is no doubt that self-drive cars are going to become a reality.  The technology is already available and, with test drives showing early signs of success, an unstoppable journey has started on what will become a well-travelled road.

‘For all the positives, the industry will need to be very alert to the risk of cyber manipulation and attack.

‘Self-drive cars will probably work through internet connectivity and, just as large volumes of electronic traffic can be routed to overwhelm websites, the opportunity for self-drive traffic being routed to create ‘spam jams’ or disruption is a very real prospect.

‘Yet the industry takes safety and security incredibly seriously. Doubtless, overrides could be built in so that drivers could shut down many of the car’s capabilities if hacked. That way, humans will still be able to ensure their cars don’t route them on the road to nowhere.’

Boris To Introduce New Ultra Low Emission Penalty On Current Diesel Vehicles.

Plans to charge drivers of diesel cars about £10 to drive into central London are being considered.
The levy would be on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge for driving into the centre of the capital.
The Mayor wants the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to be introduced by 2020.
The Times newspaper says he will also lobby the government to increase vehicle excise duty on diesel cars to encourage motorists to move to cleaner vehicles.
Only diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempt, while petrol cars registered before 2006 will also have to pay the new charge.
All new cars sold from 1 January 2015 must meet the Euro 6 emissions standard, a stringent European Union directive to cut exhaust pollutants which targets a cut in nitrogen dioxide, seen as an air pollutant.
London, in breach of European targets on air pollution:
A spokesman for the mayor said the plans will be subject to a full consultation and any levy on cars not meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard would be “likely to be a similar amount to the congestion charge”.
The mayor’s environment adviser, Matthew Pencharz, said: “Over recent years the Euro diesel engine standards have not delivered the emission savings expected, yet governments have been incentivising us to buy them.
Editorial Comment:
The most worrying aspect of this new measure is that Boris has made no statement about an exemption for Taxis and Private Hire.
If this measure is bought in without exemption, many drivers and most garages hiring out Taxis would face a major financial difficulty.
The secondhand value of virtually all Euro 5 or lower vehicles will fall through the floor. We need a statement from Boris as soon as possible about the future of pre Euro 6 vehicles.
Boris isn’t banning polluting vehicles, he’s just squeezing money out of drivers who have had no choice in the vehicles available to them to buy and is raising funds with another tax on hard working Taxi trade.
The problem being NO2 and NOx emissions:
Boris also consciously ignored health considerations attached to the production of new Taxi vehicles. His age limit policy (signed off by the United Trade Group without consultation of their membership) removed thousands of older vehicles from service, consciously knowing they were less polluting in the area of NO2 and NOx particle production.
This new measure isn’t about health or cleaner air for London. It’s all about the money (AGAIN).

The Black App Pushing the Bounderies!

Various messages have been coming in informing us that the Black App, Uber, are visiting various Taxi Ranks and enticing drivers to sign up, they are offering various incentives including £50 just to register for the app.

Last week we were informed that they visited the City Airport rank where apparently one driver signed up, the promotion team were then forced to leave the area by the rank marshall at the airport as we were told that City Airport did not want to have any trouble with the drivers on the rank. The driver that did sign up has allegedly been disowned by his colleagues and asked not to return the the rank.

We have also been informed that a “bunch of sexy girls” turned up today at Ealing rank with the intention of signing drivers but they were consequently blasted by a couple of drivers and they moved on. We are not yet aware whether or not they returned to the rank to try again.

It is also known that Uber have been at Surbiton today attempting to sign up more drivers, it is alleged that they are encouraging yellow Badge drivers to remove their IDs and hang up in town on the premise that they will be accepting a pre booked job through the Black App.

It appears that Uber are targeting suburban drivers in the drive to sign up more taxis to the Black App, there is an obvious reason as to their incentive for doing this as yellow Badge drivers are finding it harder than Green badge drivers to make a living in their chosen area hence it is more of a lure for them to sign up on the promise of getting more fares and earning more money.

We also believe that this is an attempt by the Black App to split the taxi trade and further the tension between Green and Yellow badge drivers, also this is a further attempt to challenge TfL policy and regulations.

We do realise that in these challenging times the temptation to sign up for a service such as that offered by the Black App is hard to resist, especially for drivers in some suburban areas where work is scarce during the summer holiday season, but signing up for such a service only  goes to towards further blurring the distinction between the Taxi and private Hire Trades and does nothing for the well earned reputation of the London Taxi trade as a whole.

Drivers should resist the urge to sign up for the Black App Uber!

More Disruption From Boris And TfL, At The Hight Of The Season For Taxi Drivers.

Prudential RideLondon – Saturday 9 Augustand Sunday 10 August

On Saturday 9 August and Sunday 10 August 2014 the Prudential RideLondon event takes place in London and there will be road closures and changes to the road layout to accommodate the events.

Once again there are four separate events and these are:

–        Freecycle – Saturday 9 August 2014 – this is a 10 mile route in central London

–        Grand Prix – Saturday 9 August 2014 – this is a series of races in St James’s Park

–        London – Surrey 100 – Sunday 10 August 2014 – this is the race for the general public that starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, goes out to Surrey and then ends on The Mall

–        London – Surrey Classic – Sunday 10 August 2014 – this is the same as the 100 race but for 150 top cyclists only


Maps showing the routes for the different events can be found here:

–        Freecycle route

–        Grandprix route

–        London – Surrey 100

–        London – Surrey Classic

Road closures

To allow the different events to take place some roads will be closed and details of where these will be, the closure times and when the roads are expected to reopen can be found in the leaflets available on our website here. Road closures for the events on Sunday will be in place from 05:00and roads will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Roads in east London are expected to reopen from 13:30 whilst in central London all roads, apart from The Mall, are expected to reopen by 20:00.

The Mall will be closed from 07:00 on Friday 8 August until 06:00 Monday 11 August.


A number of bridges in central London will be closed until the evening on Sunday 10 August but Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge will remain open all day.

Tour of Britain – Sunday 14 September 2014

On Sunday 14 September 2014 the final stage of the Tour of Britain comes to London. There are two races in central London – a time trial and a circuit race – and both of these start and finish around Whitehall and go out to Tower Hill.

A map of both race routes is available here.

Road closures

Roads along and around the route will be closed to allow the event to take place and Westminster Bridge will also be closed. The first road closure will be from 03:00 and this will be Whitehall (northbound). From 07:00 Whitehall (southbound) will be closed and from 08:00 all roads on the route will be closed. After the event most roads are expected to be reopen at 19:30.




Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire  

Email: For enquiries

Web: For licensing information visit the TfL website or try TfL’s Common Questions Section

Twitter: You can now follow us on Twitter@TfLTPH

Telephone: For driver and operator enquiries call0343 222 4444, for vehicle enquiries call 0343 222 5555

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