UK Focus – Autonomous Vehicles Coming Soon

By CCN 2 weeks ago

The UK’s Automated Vehicle Act, passed in May 2024, aims to enhance road safety by introducing self-driving vehicles that could surpass human drivers’ safety levels by 2026. The legislation also anticipates economic benefits, job creation, and improved connectivity for communities across the country.

A Bill on the legal framework for the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles in the UK was considered by the House of Lords between November 23 and February 24. Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords agreed the bill in May 2024 and the Automated Vehicle Act is now law.

The legislation, which is the first of its kind in Europe, has at its heart road safety. Human error contributed to around 88% of road traffic accidents and it is hoped that, in time, autonomous vehicles will match or exceed the safety levels of human drivers. There is still significant testing to take place before we will see these self-driving vehicles on the roads.

It is hoped that the AV Act (20.05.2024) will not only bring these safety benefits to our roads by 2026 but also create economic benefits to the UK with the possible creation of thousands of jobs in the industry with the hope that it becomes the leader in self driving technology regulation.

It is hoped that the integration of such vehicles onto our roads will connect communities, access to services and increase mobility to those who have not had such access before.

Self-driving trials have been taking place across the country and significant investment is being made in this sector in the UK to help advance such trials.

One of the key points in the Act is to reassure drivers that when a vehicle is in autonomous mode, they will not be held liable for accidents that may occur. Liability in such accidents will be important as it needs to be established if it is the responsibility of the motor insurer, vehicle manufacturer, software developer or driver.

There will be continued discussions with the relevant departments in Government and the AV industry to ensure the speedy introduction of appropriate secondary legislation to allow the rollout of fully autonomous vehicles, hopefully in two years’ time.  It remains to be seen if the Government will have the resource to ensure that this tight regulatory timetable is kept to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of this sector.

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