An example infotainment screen in the (not currently self-driving) Tesla Model 3.
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

The UK's Department for Transport has announced new rules that will allow drivers to watch TV while driving a self-driving car. The rule that restricts drivers from viewing non-driving related content on television-receiving apparatus will not be in effect when the proposals come into force. The Highway Code in the UK will be updated over the summer, according to the BBC.

There are some restrictions on the ability to watch TV. The driver of the car needs to be ready to take control of the vehicle if necessary. Drivers will only be allowed to view content through the vehicle's built-in infotainment apparatus. It is still illegal to use a handheld phone while driving.

It’ll still be illegal to use a mobile phone while driving

The new rules only apply to cars that are registered as self driving under British law, and the page listing such vehicles is currently conspicuously empty. There are no self-driving vehicles listed for use in Great Britain. The Department for Transport thinks that the first self-driving car could be ready for use by the end of the year.

The proposed rules make it clear that self-driving cars are different from cars with assisted driving features. Cruise control and lane-keeping assistance are examples of these.

The new rules are meant to be an interim measure and will be followed by a full regulatory framework in 2025. The Highway Code is being updated to clarify the differences between self-driving and driving assistance technologies, as well as offering more details on the rules that still apply to a driver even when behind the wheel of a self driving car.