Smart Transport

Recommendations for autonomous vehicle laws to be announced

Recommendations for autonomous vehicle (AV) laws are set to be published by the Law Commission before the end of the year.

The recommendations will address who will be legally liable if an autonomous vehicle is involved in a collision or commits an offence.

The organisation says it has completed a consultation into the legal ramifications of the technology and is assessing responses before making its final recommendations.

Jessica Uguccioni, lead lawyer of the Law Commission’s autonomous vehicles review, said: “One of the big things we’ve determined is that you can’t just keep the current system for enforcing road traffic rules when it comes to automated vehicles.

“At the moment you can basically lock people up if they do something really, really bad on the road, like dangerous driving, but that is just not going to work with the automated driving regime.

“We need to have a system which is much more based on ensuring safety to begin with, but then understanding why things have gone wrong and preventing them happening again because a single incident can have ramifications for many other vehicles.”

The announcement follows researchers from the University of Leeds' School of Law calling for an 'urgent investigation' into the technology that allows self-driving cars to communicate with operators.

In the Law Commission’s consultation document, the organisation says different levels of automation should affect where liability lies.

If the vehicle is fully autonomous and can travel without a driver in them then any people in the vehicle are merely passengers so have no legal responsibility for the way the vehicle drives and are under no obligation to take over the driving.

Determining liability for autonomous vehicles which require a human driver to be in control of the vehicle at times is more complicated.

While there will be periods when the vehicle is fully autonomous or when it is being fully controlled by a human, there will also be times when the vehicle is transferring control to the driver.

report published by Oxbotica, Imperial College London and Transport for London (TfL) has identified the potential impact of AV services' deployment on major UK cities.

The UK autonomous vehicle accelerator, Zenzic has also put together safety guidance to create a framework for testing driverless vehicles on public roads.

Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry. Watch his presentation below:


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