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Korean Driver's License Applicants to be Trained on Automated Cars

The move is a proactive step toward addressing an increasingly prevalent issue: as more cars gain more autonomy, how can the humans behind the wheel understand the tech’s limitations?

Graham Hope

December 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Cockpit of futuristic autonomous car.
Getty Images

South Korea is set to overhaul its national driving test in preparation for the expected increase in automated and autonomous cars on the road.

Starting next year, it has been confirmed that applicants for a license in the Asian nation will be educated in the safe use of automated driving systems.

Currently, those seeking a license have to negotiate a test on both a defined course and public roads, and also take a written exam during which their knowledge of how to operate a vehicle is assessed.

The new section of the test will cover humans’ responsibilities when traveling in cars with automated functionality, with a particular focus on when they should assume control from the vehicle.

The move is a proactive step toward addressing an issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent: as more cars gain more autonomy, how can the humans behind the steering wheel be made aware of the limitations of the tech?

It’s a problem that has resonated with automakers, with, for example, General Motors launching a “Hands-Free Eyes On” initiative in the United States earlier this year that aims to increase consumer understanding of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Drivers’ over-reliance on automated tech has been blamed for several crashes, with automakers being forced to reiterate that cars fitted with ADAS are not fully autonomous. Indeed only last week, Tesla robustly made the point that on models fitted with Autopilot: “The driver is in control at all times.”

Related:GM to Educate Drivers on Hands-Free Tech

By introducing training into the driving license process, South Korea may now be setting a precedent that other nations will ultimately follow.

In addition, it was also announced that by 2028, there may be a new type of license available in the country that permits holders to only operate cars with automated capability.

The driving test shake-up is another example of how South Korea is preparing fastidiously for the rollout of automated and autonomous vehicles, with authorities making plans based on a defined timeline.

The current focus is on dealing with the rise in the number of vehicles with conditional automation up to Level 3, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. These are vehicles that can assume control of the driving in certain circumstances.

By 2026, it is expected there may be reasonable numbers of fully autonomous Level 4 buses and shuttles, with Level 4 cars likely to hit the road by 2028.

Legislation is also currently being prepared to address issues such as legal liability.

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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