UK consultation on adapting legal framework for automated vehicles

The preliminary findings of the 3-year review of the UK’s regulatory framework show that many of the laws governing driving today will not be fit for purpose in an era of highly automated vehicles, ie, vehicles not requiring driver/user intervention. The report identifies those rules and procedures that may need modifying or creating and provides practical hypothetical situations by way of illustration.

The consultation accompanying the report, which is open until 8 February, seeks views on the main findings and proposals arising from the review, including:

  • Introducing an ‘automated driving system entity’ (ADSE) which is legally responsible for putting the automated system forward for authorisation and for ensuring the safety of the system.
  • Introducing a ‘user-in-charge’ in the self-driving vehicle who may be called upon in certain circumstances (change of route, weather conditions, technology failure). This person should be qualified and fit to drive.
  • Introducing a new safety assurance scheme (managed by an agency):
    • for those vehicles that fall outside the scope of international and EU type approval regulations, ie, small fleets (less than 100) of small vehicles (8 seats or less) operating locally. Currently, these powers are held by the Minister
    • to apply to vehicles that are retrofitted and which currently are not subject to any law
    • to be responsible for market surveillance and product recalls
  • The creation of a standard by government of how safe highly automated driving systems need to be compared with human drivers.
  • Leaving the courts to decide accident causation in civil liability cases
  • Adapting road rules to the way in which automated vehicles will make driving decisions, eg, pavement mounting, speed limit exceedance tolerance (similar to speed cameras) and circumstances in which driving towards a pedestrian is permitted.
  • Requiring developers to disclose their ethics policies.

The preliminary review and public consultation can be found at this link: