Government considers new Automated Vehicles Act
- Posted by: Alan Feldberg
- Category: News
The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law have recommended the introduction of a new Automated Vehicles Act to ensure the safe adoption of vehicles with self-driving capability.
The Act would draw a clear distinction between features which just assist drivers, such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self-driving.
Under the Law Commissions’ proposals, when a car is authorised by a regulatory agency as having ‘self-driving features’ and those features are in-use, the person in the driving seat would no longer be responsible for how the car drives. Instead, the company or body that obtained the authorisation would face regulatory sanctions if anything goes wrong.
Thatcham Research was part of the consultation process.
Chief research strategy officer Matthew Avery said: “The transition to safe introduction of automation with self-driving capabilities is fraught with risk as we enter the early stages of adoption. Today’s report is a significant step, as it provides important legal recommendations and clarity for the safe deployment of vehicles with self-driving features onto the UK’s roads.
“In the next 12 months, we’re likely to see the first iterations of self-driving features on cars on UK roads. It’s significant that the Law Commission report highlights driver’s legal obligations and they understand that their vehicle is not yet fully self-driving. It has self-driving features that, in the near future, will be limited to motorway use at low speeds.
“The driver will need to be available to take back control at any time, won’t be permitted to sleep or use their mobile phones, the vehicle won’t be able to change lanes and if the driver does not take back control, when requested, it will stop in lane on the motorway. It is critical that early adopters understand these limitations and their legal obligations.
“To ensure clarity around system capabilities and responsibilities there must be a clear separation between Assisted Driving, where the car supports the driver, and self-driving capability, where the car is responsible for the entire driving task. As such, we applaud the recommendations that compel carmakers to use appropriate terminology when marketing these systems, to prevent motorists from becoming convinced that their car is fully self-driving, when it is not.”
“Strong, independent safety assurance to build societal confidence, working in tandem with fast-moving and clear regulation is also essential to facilitating consumer understanding and adoption. It’s therefore reassuring to see that safety assurance, along with clarity around the driver’s responsibilities and liability should a collision occur, are key tenets of the Law Commissions’ report.
“The Law Commissions recommends that there must be access to data to understand fault and liability when a crash does occur. This will ensure rapid and efficient compensation, and the data will also allow car makers to identify where and how self-driving features can be improved to enhance future safety.”