There has been much discussion in the last couple of years about the potential for self-drive or autonomous vehicles, which can navigate without the need for a driver. While the widespread use of such vehicles is still a long way off, vehicles are increasingly becoming more intelligent. New vehicles are able to undertake basic actions and to interpret traffic control signals without the intervention of a driver. The potential advantages include increased road safety, and thus a reduction in accidents, increased efficiency with a reduction in travel times and reduced environmental impact. 

Current Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) 

Until recently, the focus of policy has been on enabling simple ITS systems, such as those that provide road safety-related information and real-time traffic information, as well as multimodal travel information services (including public transport) to drivers and travellers. The next set of ITS will include warnings of road works, adverse weather conditions and of when an emergency vehicle is approaching, as well as informing the driver of the current speed limit. These ITS were the focus of the EU’s 2010 ITS Directive.

Paving the Way for Self-Drive Vehicles

However, technology has been developing quickly. As a result, policy attention has begun to turn to cooperative ITS (C-ITS), which are more advanced systems that potentially pave the way for self-drive vehicles. Such vehicles are dependent on a lot of data and sensors, which has implications for the privacy and security of those driving. The storage of data on-board vehicles and the transmission of these data via telecommunications or wifi systems will need to be secure and to respect privacy.

Furthermore, in order to deliver the potential safety benefits, the C-ITS operating in different cities, and even in different European countries, will need to be interoperable (i.e. the technology on a vehicle will need to be able to work in different cities and countries) and to provide a continuous service. After much engagement with stakeholders, in early 2019 the European Commission published a draft C-ITS Regulation that proposed a framework for the development of C-ITS in Europe. The Commission’s proposal has met with some opposition, so has not yet been adopted.

TEPR supporting the development of the EU policy framework

The policy framework to support the development of ITS is being developed at the EU level to ensure that similar standards for privacy, safety and security are applied across the EU. TEPR has been supporting the European Commission in developing this policy framework. This has included an evaluation of the existing ITS Directive, as well as support for the development of the draft C-ITS Regulation. These reports can be found on the relevant section of TEPR’s website.

For More Information

TEPR is an independent research consultancy that works on projects to improve the environmental performance of transport. For more details about the above project, or our work more generally, contact Ian Skinner at TEPR ( or call +44 (0)7521 063324.

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