IT IS one of the scourges of modern life - cars parked half on and half off pavements, and oftentimes more on than off, blocking the way for pedestrians.

It happens in town centres and increasingly in residential areas, leading to the ridiculous situation whereby passers-by, including parents with pushchairs or small children in hand have to go onto the road to pass.

This is not an exaggeration. I see it regularly and have to do it myself, though thankfully not while trying to manipulate a baby buggy or hold a toddler's hand.

But it seems that the ad hoc use of pavements as an extension of roads is about to get a lot worse.

According to some reports this week, the Government is set to review the provisions of the Highways Act of 1835, in order that the testing of so-called driverless technology can take place.

Apparently, driverless technology is being developed for use on pavements, predominantly as a new approach to city and town centre transport.

A three-year trial of two-seater driverless 'pods' is set to begin soon under an initiative called the UK Autodrive project.

This was described late last year, when it won a Government competition, as "a consortium of forward thinking local authorities, the UK’s leading technology and automotive businesses and academic institutions."

Forward thinking? Sorry. I would laugh out loud in a derisory, snorty sort of way but I'm too busy seeking shelter on a busy main road as hordes of driverless cars hunt me off the pavement.

Actually, I'm not, but I could be in the future if this nonsense is allowed to take hold.

The driverless cars that appear to be under development for the aforementioned trial can carry two people and most worryingly, will be capable of travelling at 15mph.

Most however, will travel no faster than 10mph, and will begin to slow down of their own accord when they sense something in the way.

Something in the way? Oh, that will just be the scores of law abiding pedestrians going about their business ON THE PAVEMENT, where they are meant to be.

Tim Armitage, the project manager of UK Autodrive, told a national newspaper this week that these vehicles would use only a "reasonably sized" paved area that was clearly marked.

Thus we appear to be into a dubious realm where sections of pavements are marked off for the use of driverless cars, rather than pedestrians.

Meanwhile, those of us who merely walk our streets while going about our business will be herded into ever smaller spaces so the users of these vehicles can be spared the inconvenience of having to slow down if someone has the temerity to pass in front of them.

And let's not beat about the bush - these vehicles are not small. I imagine that a sizeable fleet of these things invading our city and town centres will in no time render large pedestrianised (oh, the irony) areas out of bounds.

Put one of these vehicles on an ordinary-sized pavement meanwhile, and it will be pushchairs in the carriageway pretty much all the time.

Which brings me back to the Highways Act of 1835.

The clue is in the date. Two years before Queen Victoria took to the throne, the biggest impediment to the users of footpaths were animals and the carriages or carts they pulled.

The Act sought to ban horse-drawn carriages and the driving of a "horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine or cattle" on footpaths.

Nowadays it can apparently be used to bar cyclists from riding on footpaths and drivers from coming up onto the kerb when parking.

Its enforcement in these days of reduced police and local authority resources is sadly diminished and there is barely - no, I'll confidently state, never - a day goes by that I do not see a car parked up on a kerb and/or someone riding a bicycle on a pavement.

But crucially, the Act could currently also be used to prevent driverless vehicles from being used on pavements.

The new Government, drunk at the prospect of introducing new laws or fiddling with the provisions of existing ones, will need to change the provisions of the Highways Act of 1835, in order to enable the testing and use of such technology.

I hope fervently that it does not. While provision quite rightly exists for mobility scooters to be used on pavements, these are not vast in number and they can only travel at 4mph.

Opening our pavements up to vehicles that can travel at two-and-a-half times that speed is surely a rather crass revelling in the use of technology for technology's sake, when there is nothing fundamentally wrong with us using our own two feet.