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Driverless cars consultation kick started by Law Commissions

8 November 2018

A public consultation on the legal changes necessary for driverless cars to appear on British roads was published today by the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission of England & Wales.

The exercise is the first in a series of public consultations in the Commissions' joint three year project to examine any legal obstacles to the widespread introduction of self-driving vehicles and highlight the need for regulatory reforms.

It explains the different levels of autoimation that may apply, and the international legal framework, then asks a series of questions on whether and how road rules should be adapted for automated vehicles, who would be responsible for accidents and how to ensure safety for passengers and the wider public. They include:

  • How should we provide safety assurance for self-driving systems?
  • Road rules have been developed for human drivers. How should they be adapted for automated vehicles so that they drive safely? For example, should an automated vehicle mount the pavement or cross a white line to let an emergency vehicle through, just like a human driver would in an emergency situation?
  • Should we introduce a new Government agency to monitor and investigate accidents involving automated vehicles?
  • Do we need to modify criminal and civil liability laws to ensure clarity and certainty in the law about who is accountable if things go wrong? This work builds on the Government’s recent insurance reforms for automated vehicles.

The review is part of the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge set out in the UK Government’s industrial strategy.

Caroline Drummond, commissioner at the Scottish Law Commission, commented: "The UK could become a global hub for automated vehicles, supporting sustainable and inclusive economic growth across the country.

"This consultation is the first step to achieving this, and we look forward to hearing from a range of stakeholders how we can create a legal framework that allows this industry to flourish."

Law commissioner Nicholas Paines QC added: "Automated vehicles will have a transformative effect on how we take journeys, our standard of living and the wider economy.

"We want to hear from stakeholders and the public about how to create an environment in which this technology can flourish whilst maintaining public safety."

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for comments is 8 February 2019.


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