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Reforms would ‘allow safe introduction of automated vehicles’


Human drivers should not be legally accountable for road safety when behind the wheel of an autonomous car, a new report has concluded. The report, published by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, makes recommendations for the safe and responsible introduction of self-driving vehicles. Many driver assistance features are currently available to help a human driver.

The report anticipates that, in future, these features will develop to a point where an automated vehicle will be able to drive itself for at least part of a journey, without a human paying attention to the road. For example, a car may be able to drive itself on a motorway, or a shuttle bus may be able to navigate a particular route. The report calls for a new Automated Vehicles Act, to regulate vehicles that can drive themselves.

This would draw a clear distinction between features which just assist drivers, such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self-driving. Under the Law Commissions’ proposals, when a car is authorised by a regulatory agency as having “self-driving features” and those features are in-use, the person in the driving seat would no longer be responsible for how the car drives.

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