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Commissions begin project on law around driverless vehicles

6 March 2018

The UK's legal framework for automated vehicles is to come under scrutiny in a joint project of the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission of England & Wales.

The Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) has asked the latter body to undertake a far-reaching review of the law, and the use of such vehicles as part of public transport networks and on-demand passenger services. The Scottish Law Commission will join in the work on this project.

Automated vehicles do not readily fit within current legal frameworks, as many existing requirements apply to human drivers, and the two law reform bodies will be considering a wide variety of areas, ranging from road traffic legislation to product liability.

For example:

  • How do automated driving systems fit within safety assurance mechanisms for cars (like type approval, and MOTs)?
  • Who is accountable for automated vehicles in an accident or crime?
  • Who will decide what is safe?

The Commissions’ task is to provide a legal framework which can remain effective in the face of vehicles that may no longer include a human driver, as part of a national conversation on this important future technology. The review will not go into whether increased automation in driving is a positive or not.

Their project will cover road-based automated vehicles, as opposed to drones or vehicles for use solely on pavements. Related areas that are integral to delivering effective policy in this area and will inform the review, but are predominantly outside scope, are data protection and privacy; theft and cyber security; and land use policy.

Starting this month, the three year project will in its first year include an audit of the current law and a scoping exercise to identify key issues.

The Commissions aim to publish a scoping paper for consultation before the end of 2018.

Click here to view the project page. Anyone who would like to raise any matters on the topic of automated vehicles can email


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