Drivers face new rules over having 'hands off steering wheel' from 2026

Drivers could soon have their "eyes and hands" off the road and wheel with the launch of a new Ford motor. Ford has predicted that all drivers will be able to keep their hands off the wheel while driving as automated vehicles could be rolled out as soon as 2026.

Ford boss Jim Farley said the company is “really close” to having the technology ready for drivers, motorists and road users to use. Speaking to Bloomberg, Farley said: “We can do it now pretty regularly with a prototype but doing it in a cost-effective way is just the progress we’re going to need to make.

“Level 3 autonomy will allow you to go hands and eyes off the road on the highway in a couple years so then your car becomes like an office." He continued that having a “hands-free” device would allow drivers to do conference calls in their car alongside “all sorts of stuff”.

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Level 3 autonomy will allow drivers to be hands and eyes off the road under the Automated Vehicles Bill. Mr Farley believes Ford can make that progress quickly enough to be offering the feature in 2026, which could make it the first mass market car brand to offer what auto engineers call Level 3 autonomy.

This is where the car takes over the driving task under certain conditions, enabling the driver to divert their attention to other tasks. Mr Farley suggested Ford’s system would operate at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour on the highway, but only under clear skies.

“We only think we can do it on sunny days,” Farley said. “Heavy rain and stuff makes it difficult to do it at 80 miles an hour.” Car marker Ford is also offering its drivers subscription services to features such as BlueCruise. “BlueCruise has been so much more popular than we expected, which is hands free,” Farley said.

“It’s kind of the step before you get to eyes off.”