The Law Commissions of England, Wales and Scotland have recently proposed introducing new legislation to regulate automated, i.e. self-driving, vehicles (AVs) on roads in Great Britain.
The report’s authors anticipate that Automated Driving Systems (ADS) will evolve to the extent that the AV will be able to drive itself without a human driver paying attention during at least parts of journeys. 75 recommendations are proposed which tackle the full spectrum of issues to safely enable that evolution. Taken together, they create a new and ambitious regulatory scheme that is radically different to the current system.
The centre-piece of the report is a proposal to divide liability amongst a human user-in-charge, a no-user-in-charge entity (NUIC) and an authorised self-driving entity (ASDE). When the ADS is properly engaged, the user-in-charge would be immune from a wide range of offences with responsibility, and liability, for journeys consequently shifting to NUICs and ASDEs.
The report also considers a wide range of issues that arise in an AV’s lifecycle, ranging from proposals for updating the current type approval regime to accommodate ADS approval (including questions as to the appropriate expected safety standard) to proposals on what should occur when accidents unfortunately happen. A new approach to penalties, focused on data sharing and the establishment of a “duty of candour”, is also proposed.
We can now expect the UK Government to provide an interim response within six months. A final response is then due within a year. For further thoughts on the report’s conclusions, as well as the challenges that the proposed new regime will present, our more detailed TQ insights briefing can be found at link.