LIKE many people, lockdown and the subsequent “new normal” has brought much change to my working life. When I’m WFH two days a week, it remains a welcome novelty that my commute is measured in steps and not miles.

I certainly don’t miss the late-night drives home after the paper is put to bed. However, I do confess to missing my wee car, which has found a new home with our son.

Gilbert (named after a French café owner) is a Peugeot 107 of vintage years with little under the bunnet. Despite there being absolutely no frills and a leaky boot, I always enjoyed driving him. You are never on autopilot in a rattly wee car.

That’s why the mere notion of autonomous vehicles completely freaks me out.

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My reservations were only compounded last week with the news that people using self-driving cars will be allowed to watch television on built-in screens under proposed updates to the Highway Code.

The changes will mean drivers must be ready to take back control of vehicles when prompted, the government said.

Phew. That’s OK, then. The car “user” engrossed in the latest Corrie cliffhanger is bound to snap back to full alertness, put down their popcorn and resume full control of their vehicle in a nanosecond.

On the bright side, using mobile phones while driving will remain illegal.

This is a small mercy. I always get the fear when stopped at lights behind someone who is clearly texting furiously, with a creeping suspicion that the person behind is probably doing the same. What if the lights change when they’re in mid message? What if they’re only halfway through that grocery list or missive to the boss saying they’re running late for work?

I had a schoolfriend whose mother insisted on putting on her make-up while driving. It was most unnerving. I always mused that, if and when we crashed on the motorway (yes, she even applied her mascara while doing 70 on the M8), at least she’d be glammed up for her arrival at A&E.

My late father, not renowned for his smooth driving, would insist on lighting his pipe at the wheel while negotiating ill-advised manoeuvres. He only crashed the car twice. Fortunately, these were not serious incidents. Nevertheless, it maybe explains why I’m a jumpy passenger.

No self-driving cars are currently allowed on UK roads, but the first could be ready for use later this year. The first use of self-driving technology is likely to be when travelling at slow speeds on motorways, such as in congested traffic.

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So reassuring.

The planned changes to the code are expected to come in over the summer.

Car safety experts Thatcham Research said drivers need to be made aware they “must remain engaged” and be ready to resume driving “at any time”.

That’s fine … in theory. But what if you’ve nodded off during a particularly dull episode of Emmerdale?

Perhaps this clever tech should ensure only Casualty is screened, just to keep everyone on their toes.