Law Commissions reveal legal framework plans for self-driving cars

18/12/2020
Dominic Browne

The Law Commissions of England and Wales and Scotland have announced proposals for a comprehensive new legal framework to ensure the safety of self-driving vehicles.

Among other legal innovations, a new concept of the user-in-charge would be created to describe a former driver once the vehicle is driving itself. A user-in-charge would not be criminally liable if a crash occurred while in self-driving mode.

The plans include:

  • Implementing a new, start-to-finish self-driving vehicle safety assurance scheme, including monitoring performance and software updates throughout the vehicle’s life
  • Clearly defining the responsibility of drivers, users and fleet owners according to the capabilities of self-driving technologies to help ensure vehicles are used as intended
  • Ensuring that manufacturers and technology developers recognise their role in guaranteeing the safety of the vehicle, while freeing the driver from responsibility when self-driving mode is engaged.

On the issue of vehicle safety, a two-track system would give manufacturers the choice of type approval for the vehicle under an international framework or a new national scheme.

This would be followed by a categorisation decision to establish whether the vehicle is self-driving for British purposes, and how it can lawfully be used on this country's roads.

The legal framework would create distinctive rules for two types of automated vehicle: Category-1 AVs that might require human driving for part of a journey and Category-2 AVs that can complete a whole journey unaided and without a user in the vehicle.

'Category-1 AVs might only drive themselves on the motorway and need a human to complete the rest of the trip. The human would be a driver while off the motorway but would be a user-in-charge while the vehicle was driving itself. Users-in-charge are not responsible for the driving but continue to have responsibilities such as insuring the vehicle, duties after an accident and ensuring children wear seat belts.

'Category-2 AVs may be entirely remotely operated as part of a licensed fleet with a user classified as a passenger. The vehicle fleets will need to be looked after by a licensed operator who will also have specific responsibilities, for example supervising their fleets and providing prompt support if they get stuck as well as maintenance for example.'

The framework would be 'underpinned by robust incident investigation and enforced through a flexible range of regulatory powers and sanctions.' the Law Commissions said.

The Law Commissions recommend a shift away from the criminal enforcement of traffic rules towards a new 'no-blame safety culture' borrowed from the aviation sector, including a new range of regulatory sanctions.

However the commissions are seeking views on the possibility of new corporate offences where wrongs by a developer resulted in death or serious injury.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: 'Self-driving vehicles can contribute to improving and levelling up transport across the country, making everyday journeys greener, safer, more flexible and more reliable.

'The UK is leading the way on the regulation of this technology, supporting innovation and putting safety at the heart of everything we do – ensuring self-driving vehicles are safe, secure and ultimately benefit all of society.'

The proposals were published as the third and final consultation from the Law Commissions after they were tasked by the UK Government's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to undertake a far-reaching review of the legal framework for automated vehicles.

Nicholas Paines QC, Public Law Commissioner, said: 'It’s vital that the public have confidence in this technology.

'Our proposed legal framework will ensure that this technology can be safely deployed, whilst the flexibility built into the rules and regulations will allow us to keep up with advances in the technology.'

David Bartos, Scottish Law Commissioner, said: 'The responses to our consultation, from a wide range of stakeholders will help us to create a legal framework that achieves these aims.'

The closing date to respond to the consultation is 18 March 2021.

A final report is due in the final quarter of 2021.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

 

ALSO INSIDE:

  • Exclusive: Smart Motorways
  • Are you AI protected?
  • Traffex Parkex Evex Cold Comfort
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Traffic Management Officer – Technical Specialist x2

£44,428 - £47,240
The City has ambitious plans to deliver an improved sustainable transport infrastructure Bristol
Recruiter: Bristol City Council

Assistant Service Manager

£30,054 - £31,963
We are looking for a highly motivated Assistant Service Manager to join our County Transport team County Transport, Brimington Workshop, Chesterfield
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Principal Engineer - Highways Development Management

£48,378 - £51,571
We are looking for an experienced and talented professional to join West Northampton Council as our Highways Development Principal Engineer. One Angel Square, Northampton
Recruiter: West Northamptonshire Council

Principal Engineer - Highways Development Management

£48,378 - £51,571
You will play a lead role on all major highway development proposals across West Northampton. One Angel Square, Northampton
Recruiter: West Northamptonshire Council

Service Manager - Highways (Asset and Traffic)

£48,474 to £51,515
A vacancy has become available for a Service Manager to join and manage our successful Highways Assets and Traffic team. Torbay, Devon
Recruiter: SWISCo

Head of Highway Operations

Grade 15 £59,559 - £65,327
At Derbyshire, we have been on a journey to transform the way we deliver highway services Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Highway Inspector Manager

£42,403 - £46,464
You will be working closely with the Highway Inspections Operations Manager Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Staffordshire County Council

DSO Compliance Officer (Health and Safety)

Salary From £41,043

Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Highway Inspector

£31,364 - £35,745
Our Highway Inspection team ensures that we comply with our duty to maintain the highway Staffordshire
Recruiter: Staffordshire County Council

Highway Network Officer WMF1060e

£35,745 - £36,648
Westmorland and Furness Council, Highways and Transport service is looking for an experienced, motivated, and friendly individual. Cumbria
Recruiter: Westmorland and Furness Council

Head of Commissioning Management

Grade 15 £59,559 - £65,327
At Derbyshire, we have been on a journey to transform the way we deliver highway services Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Light Vehicle Mechanic

Grade 8 £27,507 - £29,418 per annum
We are looking for a highly motivated Light Vehicle Mechanic to join our County Transport team Derbyshire
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Traffic Management Officer - WMF1092e

£35,745 - £36,648
This is a role for Traffic Management Officer to be based in the Eden area. Penrith, Cumbria
Recruiter: Westmorland and Furness Council

Traffic Management Technician - WMF1090e

£26,421 - £27,334
This is a role for Traffic Management Technician to be based in the Eden area. Penrith, Cumbria
Recruiter: Westmorland and Furness Council

Multi Skilled Operatrive x4

£22,737.00 - £29,269.00, Career grade 3-6, 37 hours, Permanent
We are seeking enthusiastic and capable colleagues to join our Highway Operations team that forms part of the Highway Network Management. Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Wakefield Council

Supervising Technician

£33,024.00 - £35,745.00, Grade 8, 37 hours, Permanent
The purpose of this role is to support the Workshop Manager you will be required to work closely with other Supervising Technicians. Newton Bar Depot, Central Vehicle Workshops, Newton Bar, Wakefield WF1 2TU
Recruiter: Wakefield Council

Heavy Vehicle/Plant Apprenticeship

Age dependent (Under 18 yrs - £12,347, 18-20 yrs - £16,591, 21+yrs - £22,071)
The programme can start to build your career, or help you to re-train, becoming a valued, recognised and rewarded team member. Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Wakefield Council

Senior Engineer - Highways and Drainage

£40,221 - £44,428 + 12% Attraction + Retention Payment equating to actual pay £45,047 - 49,759
This is an exciting opportunity to join us as a Senior Engineer. Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Traffic Management Technician - WMF1090e

Salary £26,421 - £27.334
This is a role for Traffic Management Technician to be based in the Eden area. Penrith, Cumbria
Recruiter: Westmorland and Furness Council

Assistant Arboricultural Consultant

£26100 - £30706 per annum + + 26 Days Leave & Defined Benefit Pension
Assistant Arboricultural ConsultantPermanent, Full TimeUp to £30,706 per annumLocation
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Highways Presents

 


Latest Video