What consequences do self-driving vehicles have for driver training and driving test requirements?


Operating a (partly) self-driving vehicle requires specific skills. Targeted training, for instance during driving lessons, can be very helpful. Whether this should lead to adaptation of formal driver training and driving test requirements divides opinions. When vehicles are fully automated they may carry out all driving aspects without human intervention. Human driving skills and fitness to drive would then theoretically no longer be relevant, and a driving licence would technically no longer be needed. In the meantime, for lower levels of self-driving vehicles there are still challenges of driving skills and fitness to drive to be addressed.

In partly self-driving vehicles, driver and vehicle carry out the driving task together. Driver and vehicle have to collaborate adequately to ensure safe task performance [55]. A key factor is driver adaptability. A driver’s ability to cope with responsibility requires mode awareness, calibrated trust and due attention to manage responsibility. In addition, driving skills have to be retained (see the question What driver-related obstacles are involved in self-driving cars?). Good communication between the self-driving vehicle and the driver are important factors (see the question How can self-driving vehicles communicate with drivers and other road users?). All these concerns may change driving skill requirements.

In 2020, an analysis of the literature and of training needs was carried out, combined with stakeholder consultations [56]. This resulted in the conclusion that it could be worthwhile to offer custom training to drivers of self-driving vehicles, but that this does not necessarily have to be incorporated into the current driving lessons and driving licence requirements. Monitoring and assessing new insights, however, has to continue. Thus, the need for adaptation of driving lessons, driving skill and fitness-to-drive requirements will be noted on time. Research among driving examiners, however, shows that they are unanimous in thinking that attention should also be paid to driving with the most common versions of driver assistance systems [57].

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Self-driving vehicles

It will probably take at least several decades for completely self-driving vehicles to become commercially available, if they ever will. Yet, Meer

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