New Dutch law allows self-driving cars to be tested on public roads

If you've got your driver's license and you enjoy driving then this could come as more of a let down; self-driving cars will soon be seen on public roads in the Netherlands.

The new Dutch law

The decision was made by the Dutch government, in response to Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment who had proposed a bill to test driverless vehicles.

The law is strictly allowing the experimentation of such vehicles (Experimenteerwet Zelfrijdende Auto) by loosening legal restrictions so that manufacturers will have more opportunities to conduct elaborate tests.

Smart cars

Despite assumptions, driverless vehicles can drive in closer proximity with each other meaning that they utilise more road space. They can also communicate with each other allowing traffic to flow more freely. They are also more environmentally friendly and will, therefore, reduce the costs of operating a vehicle in the future. 

Safer self-driving vehicles

According to the government, 90 percent of all road accidents are actually caused by human error. Self-driving cars are therefore predicted to have significantly fewer accidents.

With the new law, companies will be able to apply for permits to conduct tests with driverless vehicles on public roads with a person ready to take control remotely if something goes wrong.

Before, since 2015 when exemptions for testing were issued from the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW), a person had to present inside the actual vehicle.

The RDW and other experts, including the National Scientific Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands (SWOV), will assess areas for driverless vehicle testing in advance.

These tests will give the minister insight into whether further amendments to the legislation will need to be made. 

EU members agree to participation

In 2016, EU member states agreed to cooperate on accelerating the development of self-driving vehicles. In February 2017, this became a reality and the Netherlands, along with Germany, Sweden, Spain, Austria and 21 other EU member states agreed to set up large-scale testing of self-driving vehicles for the near future.

These tests will involve large-scale trucks and vehicles to see how close they can travel behind each other on automatic pilot derived from communicating data to one another. The first tests are expected to take place in 2017 or at the beginning of 2018.

Countries and manufacturers aim to have self-driving vehicles cross borders by 2019.

Minister Schultz states, "With this bill, the Netherlands is taking a significant step towards the introduction of self-driving vehicles. In our country, we have the ideal combination of good, smart infrastructure, intelligent researchers and an innovative high-tech business community. Together, we can seize the chance to make the mobility solutions of the future a reality."

Kiri Scully


Kiri Scully

Raised a global citizen, to an Irish father and American mother, Kiri has lived and worked in five countries over three continents. Fuelled by culture curiosity at an early age,...

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