Here are the recent major changes to driverless car laws

Here are the recent major changes to driverless car laws

It’s no secret that we’re all steadily edging towards a fully automated vehicle world. In fact, the technology itself has been here for a while. Before it can be rolled out on a widespread scale though,, there are a few things that need to be worked out from a practical, logistical and legal standpoint - and they’re pretty thorny issues, too.

Case in point: the latest report by the UK Law Commission has stated that people should not be held legally accountable for road safety in the era of autonomous cars. The report makes suggestions as to how we should operate from a legal standpoint in the matter of autonomous vehicles. It suggests, for example, that drivers of autonomous vehicles should be redefined as “users-in-charge”, and should adhere to a different set of legal respon­sibi­lities.

The idea is basically to ensure that if anything were to go wrong with an automated car while it’s on the road, the company behind the driving system would be responsible, not the “user-in-charge”. The report also asks that vehicle manufacturers clearly define what constitutes a self-driving vehicle, and for them to be clear on the differentiation between self-drive and driver-assist features.

Now, truly driverless cars are still a bit of a way off at this point, so if you do find yourself in need of a temporary vehicle from us here at Intack Self Drive, bear in mind it’ll still require a human driver! We’ve got the very best deals on short term van hire, as well as car hire, so whatever your needs, you can be sure we’ve got a vehicle to suit your needs. Looking ahead to when driverless cars will become a regular feature of UK roads though, here’s what the UK Law Commission has proposed regarding changes to the law to accommodate them.

Risks to other road users

The UK Law Commission for England, Scotland and Wales was asked in 2018 to produce a series of reports on the regulatory framework for automated vehicles. The report included a few recom­men­dations:

  • The ‘user-in-charge’ of the vehicle should not be prosecuted for offences that directly arise from driving tasks, such as dangerous driving and speeding
  • The ‘user-in-charge’ should remain responsible for other tasks like insuring the vehicle and ensuring that passengers are wearing seatbelts
  • Some vehicles may be allowed to drive themselves with no-one in the driving seat
  • Data to understand fault and liability following a collision must be accessible to all
  • Sanctions should be imposed on carmakers who fail to reveal how their autonomous driver systems work

New Transport Minister Trudy Harrison conducted her own recent review of the findings, and subsequently stated that the government would “fully consider” the recommendations laid out by the committee.

Her thoughts were echoed by chief research strategy officer at Thatcham Research, Matthew Avery: “We applaud the recommendations that compel carmakers to use appropriate terminology when marketing these systems, to prevent motorists from becoming convinced that their car is fully self-driving when it is not.

“In the next 12 months, we’re likely to see the first iterations of self-driving features on cars in the UK [so] 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”.

Following Mr. Avery’s comments, the UK government announced that any vehicle fitted with automatic lane-keeping systems (ALKS) will be permitted to drive at a speed of up to 37mph in a single lane without needing the driver to interact with it (Basically, ALKS makes sure a vehicle stays in its own lane, and assists in controlling the car’s speed and braking).

As things stand, this is the first step that’s been made in introducing legislation that specifically applies to hands-free vehicles on UK roads.

So, it would appear that there’re some exciting times on the horizon with regards to the introduction of automatic vehicles! Until this happens though, we’re still going to be responsible for the cars we drive, and that includes the fantastic rental offers we provide right here at Intack Self Drive

All of our rental vehicles come with the option to rent through daily hire, or our outstanding Flexi hire service, so wherever your intended destination, we’ll have a vehicle that suits your requirements. We’ve got almost half a century of car and minibus hire experience under our belt here at Intack Self Drive, and we’re always here to help. Ready to get started? You can browse the best hire deals right here on our site, or give us a call on 01254 57811!

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