The Government has commissioned a detailed review of driving laws to ensure the UK remains one of the ‘best places in the world to develop, test and drive self-driving vehicles’.
The three-year review, to be carried out by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, will examine the legal obstacles to the widespread introduction of autonomous vehicles.
The review will look at how current laws will need to be adjusted to reflect the fact self-driving vehicles of the future will not have a ‘driver’, or perhaps even a steering wheel – while also considering some of the criminal offences involved.
The project sets out to answer a number of important issues including:
- Who is the ‘driver’ or responsible person?
- How to allocate civil and criminal responsibility where there is some shared control
- The role of automated vehicles within public transport networks and emerging platforms for on-demand passenger transport, car sharing and new business models providing mobility as a service
- Whether there is a need for new criminal offences to deal with ‘novel types of conduct and interference’
- The impact on other road users, and how they can be protected from risk
Jesse Norman, roads minister, said: “The UK is a world leader for self-driving vehicle research and development and this work marks an important milestone in our continued commitment to the technology.
“With driving technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, it is important that our laws and regulations keep pace so that the UK can remain one of the world leaders in this field.”
Nicholas Paines QC, law commissioner, said: “British roads are already among the safest in the world and automated vehicles have the potential to make them even safer. Provided our laws are ready for them.
“We’ll now start consulting widely on how the law should work with this new technology and develop reforms which enable the use of self-driving vehicles in the years to come.”
Caroline Drummond, Scottish law commissioner, said: “Automated vehicles could have a big impact on the way we live and work so it’s important that, UK-wide, we have a legal system which can accommodate them.”