A New Year’s Proposal for Ontario for Autonomous Driving

1 minute read

In Southern Ontario, one major low-hanging fruit is allowing some level of Autonomous Driving (AD) on the 400 series highways in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes only. You know, those lanes to let people who are carpooling or driving busses drive to reward them with a faster drive.

This would be a great way to demonstrate safety, very doable, and would help reduce some traffic load. It will also encourage more automakers to be ambitious about making advanced safety features more available. Right now, only luxury cars have this and you still need to maintain hand control at all times.

I’m suggesting this could be loosened for cars that support it and in this dedicated, divided lane. Cars with full adaptive lane keeping would get a sticker and be one of the exemptions for 400-series HOV lanes.

If you are driving in this lane you would still be required to pay complete attention to the road at all times**. To take over control at any moment and absolutely no cell phone usage either. The driver could leave their hands and feet off the controls for as long as the vehicle allows without threat of penalty. But I would argue, that even with this there is a benefit for heavy commute corridors like London-Hamilton-Waterloo-Toronto-Oshawa-Kingston.


Knowing how these systems work and seeing them in action, one major restriction we’d need to add to this would be that this status would only be allowed under positive driving conditions. As I pointed out in “Self-Driving ‘Edge’ Cases Aren’t All That Edgy’, these systems are not able to deal robustly even will farely mundane Canadian winter driving conditions.

Here’s another example I found after that one, this day didn’t even have snow on the lanes but the sleet and rain made the road shiny and the window was constantly becoming dirty with salt, sleet and grime. Good windshield wipers, and a full tank of wiperr fluid!, are essential for these days. The

So if this were to be done in Ontario, the rule should only apply between, say, May-September or should be based on the driving conditions being favourable in some well defined way.