Those in control of vehicles with self-driving features may no longer beheld responsible for accidents under newly- proposed law reforms.
Under the ‘Automated Vehicles Act’, sanctions would fall on the manufacturer or other body responsible for obtaining authorisation for road use.
A joint investigation conducted by the UK’s law commissions recommends a clear distinction between automated features, for example cruise control, as opposed to self-driving vehicles.
Under the proposals, when a car is authorised by a regulatory agency as having ‘self-driving features’ which are being used, the person in the driving seat would no longer be prosecuted for offences arising directly from the driving task. However, they’d still be responsible for carrying insurance and ensuring children wear seat belts, for example.
Responsibility for driving mishaps would fall on the ‘authorised self-driving entity’ that had the vehicle authorised for road use.
The plans build on those introduced by the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 under which people who suffer injury or damage from a vehicle that was driving itself will not need to prove that anyone was at fault.
In a statement, transport minister Trudy Harrison said: ‘The development of self-driving vehicles in the UK has the potential to revolutionise travel, making every day journeys safer, easier and greener. That’s why the department funded this independent report and I look forward to fully considering the recommendations and responding in due course.’