According to a new proposal, self-driving car users should not be held responsible in case of a crash. The legal reviews body has recommended making distinctions between features that only assist drivers such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self-driving.
The legal reforms have been called for by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, this means the person behind the wheel of a self-driving car will be immune from prosecution if anything goes wrong, such as speeding or running a red light. Under the proposed plan the company or entity obtaining authorization for the technology will face sanctions instead.
While the person in the driving seat will be responsible for duties such as obtaining insurance, checking loads, and ensuring child passengers wear seat belts.
According to the Law Commissions, the passenger services conducted by self-driving vehicles are accessible, particularly to older and disabled people.
Public Law Commissioner, Nicholas Paines QC said, Britain has an “unprecedented opportunity to promote public acceptance of automated vehicles”. While Scottish Law Commissioner, David Bartos said, the proposals focus on “ensuring safety and accountability while encouraging innovation and development”.
Transport minister Trudy Harrison said “This Government has been encouraging development and deployment of these technologies to understand their benefits. However, we must ensure we have the right regulations in place, based upon safety and accountability, in order to build public confidence.”
In the UK fully driverless cars are not yet legal, though autonomous features are being developed by carmakers. Earlier last year in April, the Department for Transport permitted hands-free driving in vehicles with lane-keeping technology on congested motorways, at speeds of up to 37mph.
Chief research strategy officer at road safety organization Thatcham Research, Matthew Avery “In the next 12 months, we’re likely to see the first iterations of self-driving features on cars in the UK. It’s significant that the Law Commission report highlights the driver’s legal obligations and how they must understand that their vehicle is not yet fully self-driving.”
Now we need to watch out for the UK, Scottish, and Welsh Governments’ decision to accept the report’s recommendations.
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