In an effort to “unlock a transport revolution,” the government is moving forward with plans to propose the Automated Vehicles Bill, which would allow for the safe implementation of self-driving cars on British roads.
According to the King’s speech in parliament, the Bill will “put safety and the protection of the user” at the centre of upcoming UK driving laws. It will adopt recommendations made by the Law Commission after a four-year assessment, ensuring that only the driver—whether that person or the vehicle—is responsible for any accidents or injuries. Significantly, the Bill is purportedly intended to shield self-driving car owners from liability by providing them with legal protection while the self-driving feature is engaged.
In terms of safety, the Institute for Engineering and Technology has calculated that a self-driving car may make just one mistake out of 10,000 made by human drivers. In 2021, 88 percent of crashes were found to have been caused in part by human error.
According to the new legal framework, a car will only be considered “self-driving” if it can drive itself safely and complies with all traffic laws without the assistance of a human observer or controller. The Department of Transportation will have additional authority to approve these vehicles and make sure that a new set of safety regulations are followed.
According to the plans, local governments would have an additional responsibility to make sure that information is stored on a central database whenever they establish speed limits, close roads, or designate parking bays. Companies will also be held responsible for any vehicles that are put onto the roads. According to the government, information will be utilised to build a digital road network map of the UK so that autonomous cars can function.
The Bill’s announcement has been welcomed by lawyers working in the personal injury field. Joshua Hughes, Head of Complex Injury at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “New legislation to support the development of self-driving cars will be welcomed with open arms.
“Previously, there was concern over the grey area that could exist if someone is injured by a driverless vehicle and where it was difficult to prove who was in control at the time of the accident. In the scenario where a manufacturer was found to be liable, an injured claimant could then find themselves bringing a claim under complex product liability law, rather than motor liability. With this Bill, more certainty and confidence will be instilled in the manufactures, insurers and most importantly, road users.”
The government estimates that by 2035, the development of self-driving technology may support 87,000 employment and bring in £41.7 billion to the UK economy, despite the fact that many drivers are still sceptical of its potential benefits.
According to a government briefing report, the logistics and passenger transport industries are probably going to see the most effects.