No green light for self-driving cars on Belgian roads

Cars that are largely self-driving will not be allowed on Belgian roads, federal Mobility minister Georges Gilkinet told Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday.

In Germany, some Mercedes level 3 autonomous models are allowed on motorways. Level 3 means the car takes over control, allowing the driver to temporarily do other activities, under certain conditions. The driver must be able to take the wheel again at any time, the feature can only be used in daylight and the speed limit is 60 km/h.

Mercedes had hoped to offer the system in Belgium, but the idea has been rejected. “I am not in favour,” said Gilkinet, of francophone green party Ecolo. “It is an intermediate form of autonomous driving: people who sit in their car playing games are not alert enough to intervene quickly if necessary.

"For long journeys, it is better to encourage people to take the train than sit in a self-driving car"

“Self-driving cars also get stuck in traffic jams and cause pollution,” he added. “For long journeys, it is better to encourage people to take the train than sit in a self-driving car. On the train, they can also rest.”

Autonomous vehicles are particularly interesting for the logistics sector, for example in industry, says Gilkinet, and a number of pilot projects are under way.

Mobility organisation Touring is disappointed by the decision. “There is no doubt that automated vehicles can be a big step forward in terms of road safety, but they can also have resolutely positive effects in terms of traffic flow and thus environmental impact,” a spokesperson said. 

“Everyone should realise that we need the best and most advanced technology for all modes of transport to roll out a high-performance, multi-modal mobility system that successfully meets the challenges we face.”


A test driver at the wheel of a sensor- and camera-equipped Volkswagen ID. Buzz in Bavaria, May 2023 © PHOTO FRISO GENTSCH/DPA

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