The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Rules for automated driving are welcomed with reservations

Updated at 02 Feb 2024 5:00 pm

Driving without a hand on the steering wheel or driverless parking in automated vehicles is popular with political parties and associations. However, the SP and a number of associations are calling for more precise safety regulations. And the SVP rejects subsidies.

The Federal Council wants to regulate the registration and use of vehicles with automation systems in two ordinances. According to the current Road Traffic Act, this is ruled out, as drivers are not allowed to let go of the steering wheel.

According to the proposals submitted by the state government for consultation by Friday, this should be possible. Automatic parking without the driver being present should also be permitted.

In contrast to the assistance systems in widespread use today, such as ABS, cruise control or emergency braking assistance, the vehicles approved for this purpose must also be able to monitor their surroundings. The federal government also wants to subsidize innovative automation solutions in traffic.

No subsidies

Automated driving should increase the efficiency of the entire transport system, writes the SVP. This benefits the economy and the environment. At the same time, it increases the capacity of the road network. The party rejects state financial aid to promote innovative solutions for automated traffic. This is a matter for the market.

The SVP welcomes the ongoing review of data protection. To this end, the Federal Council wants to establish a market surveillance system that keeps pace with technological developments. However, the party demands that the Confederation regulates and monitors its transparency.

Clearer regulations

If it agrees in principle, the SP demands clear minimum requirements for the distance and speed of automated vehicles. Under no circumstances should these vehicles be allowed to restrict the subjective sense of safety of non-motorized road users. On freeways, the vehicles should also be able to react to unusual situations such as roadworks, wrong-way drivers or breakdowns.

During automated driving, the SP wants to ban certain activities that would make it impossible for drivers to immediately take back control themselves. Furthermore, parking spaces for automated vehicles should not require additional space. These would have to be created in existing parking spaces.

The Greens reject both proposals. If the federal government introduces automated driving in stages according to technical possibilities, society will miss out on a broad discussion about its opportunities and risks. Automated driving poses high safety risks. It also has "great potential to generate additional traffic".

Complementary function in cities

Cities are striving for sustainable transportation based on the pillars of walking, cycling and public transport, according to the Swiss Association of Cities. Automated vehicles could take on complementary functions. The association raises questions about safety, parking lot planning and traffic reduction.

For the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB), the two ordinances must be followed by a revision of the Road Traffic Act. The change from analog to automated traffic has serious consequences for the world of work. Those working in logistics would have to be taken into account. In addition, autonomous heavy goods traffic could greatly reduce the attractiveness of rail and undermine the modal shift policy.

Less road traffic

The "Auto Gewerbe Verband Schweiz" (AGVS) supports the thrust of the two proposals. However, the association representing the interests of Swiss garage businesses is "resolute" in its view that drivers must continue to be in control of their vehicles at all times so that they can fulfill their duty of care.

The Swiss Transport Club (VCS) is calling for automated driving to lead to a reduction in motorized traffic, for example by filling private cars better and increasing the capacity utilization of trucks. It considers the proposal to be too economical. The focus should be on collective transportation. In return, the road infrastructure would have to be reduced.

The Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU) welcomes the idea of safety. However, accompanying measures are needed in parallel to automated driving. In urban mixed traffic, driverless vehicles need uniform standards for communication with other road users.

Pro Velo Schweiz is hoping for a reduction in traffic, better traffic management, less road infrastructure, shared use of vehicles, more public transport and seamless safety.

The Center Party and the Green Liberal Party are not commenting on this consultation. The FDP had yet to respond on Friday afternoon.


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