Fri, 20 May 2022

Law commissions in the UK have called for the government to introduce an Automated Vehicles Act to regulate the use of self-driving cars

A joint report published on Wednesday by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission has set out a series of proposals to allow for the "safe and responsible introduction of self-driving vehicles."

Calling on the UK government to pass a new Automated Vehicles Act, the commissions said there must be a "clear distinction" between the rules governing cars that assist drivers and those that are self-driving.

The report urges politicians to ensure that legislation regulating autonomous vehicles guarantees that "the person in the driving seat would no longer be responsible for how the car drives."

The commissions propose that legislation should remove the responsibility from the person behind the wheel by classing individuals in autonomous vehicles as the "user-in-charge," rather than a driver. That would prevent them from being prosecuted for driving offenses, such as dangerous driving, speeding, or failing to stop at a red light.However, people in self-driving vehicles would not be entirely free of legal liability.

As a "user-in-charge," they would still be responsible for having insurance, checking loads, and ensuring children wear seat belts. The company or the authority regulating the cars would be liable for sanctions if anything goes wrong with the vehicle or an incident between two drivers occurs.

Following the release of the report, UK Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said "the development of self-driving vehicles in the UK has the potential to revolutionise travel, making everyday journeys safer, easier and greener."

The government will formally respond to the findings of the report "in due course."


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