King pledges to accelerate autonomous driving laws in UK

What needs to be in the UK’s self-driving bill?

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The UK’s cross-party Transport Committee said ministers needed to legislate before the next general election because the current laws for self-driving vehicles (SDVs) are “archaic and limiting”.

Transport Committee chairman Iain Stewart said: “Self-driving vehicles [SDVs] are a Great British success story in the making, and we have a competitive advantage over many other countries. 

“But all that hard work could be at risk if the government doesn’t follow through and bring forward a transport bill in the next parliamentary session, before the next general election.

“Widespread take-up of SDVs face various hurdles, including public confidence in their safety, security and their potential to have knock-on impacts on other road users. If the government is going to meet its ambitions for self-driving vehicle deployment, these knotty issues need to be addressed. 

“We believe the government should take a cautious, gradual approach, with SDV technologies only initially introduced in well-defined contexts, or else we risk unintended consequences.”  

MPs have questioned the government’s proposed “safety ambition” that autonomous vehicles will be “expected to achieve an equivalent level of safety to that of a competent and careful human driver”, believing it’s “too weak and too vague”.

The committee also said the government should set out a strategy for the future of human driving in a world of SDVs, including possible changes to driving tests and a plan to ensure all drivers fully understand SDVs.

Legal liability in SDVs will become more complex, because it’s shared between owner and vehicle software operators. The committee has recommended the government thinks more about this.

Support for bill recommendations

Tom Leggett, vehicle technology specialist at Thatcham Research, said: “We support it. There are some good recommendations, the primary one being the data access. 

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