Former 'Top Gear' Host Warns that He Almost Died in a Driverless Car

Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson recently said an unnamed autonomous vehicle failed him twice, almost costing him his life.
Shelby Rogers
Clarkson preparing for filming at Thompson Dock in July 2009Dee7100 via Flickr

Jeremy Clarkson, former Top Gear personality and renown car enthusiast, recently said he could've been killed due to errors while behind the wheel of a driverless car. 

Clarkson said he tested out the autonomous vehicle only to have it make two very critical mistakes in just 50 miles.

"I drove a car the other day which has a claim of autonomous capability and twice in the space of 50 miles on the M4 it made a mistake, a huge mistake, which could have resulted in death," Clarkson said. "We have to be very careful legally, so I’m not going to say which one."

Ultimately, The Grand Tour host doesn't think that the UK is close enough to safe usage of autonomous cars on the road. 

"For now, we're miles away from it," he said.


Several major international carmakers are ready to start production or even roll out semi and advanced autonomous car lines within the next year. Audi became the first company to successfully test its autonomous vehicles in New York City in June 2017. They look to be one of the first major automakers to step forward into self-driving cars. Audi is also a brand very familiar to Clarkson; the Top Gear crew has tested Audi vehicles for years on the show and for various events. However, not even popular and trusted names seem enough to override whatever life-threatening accidents befell Clarkson.

"You drive one of your driverless cars over the Death Road in Bolivia and I’ll buy one," Clarkson said.

"Sit there with your hands folded and let it drive you up there, then squeeze past a lorry with half the tyre [sic] hanging over a 1,000ft drop while the car drives itself. Fine, I’ll buy into it."

Driverless cars set to come to the UK

Clarkson's scathing review comes at the same time that Chancellor Philip Hammond is preparing to announced regulations for the development of self-driving vehicles. Hammond and supporters claim that the driverless car industry could support up to 27,000 new jobs by 2035. 

"These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives every year, while adding billions of pounds to the economy," said Mike Hawes, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ chief executive.

But even within Parliament, MPs are debating precisely how much money to set aside for the infrastructure and support of self-driving cars. 

“We will need customs infrastructure right across the country, in the major ports. We will also need extra resources in the shape of customs officers and border officials and we will also need extensive IT.

“We should be doing it anyway for two reasons. It gives certainty to business that we are ready if necessary for a no-deal scenario," said David Jones, a former Brexit minister. Jones wanted at least £1 billion set aside for the integration. "Secondly, it will give a strong signal to the European Union that we are making preparations – so they shouldn’t try stringing us along in the hope that we will panic. Philip Hammond really has got to show Britain means business."