The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have issued a joint report that makes a number of recommendations to the government for the safe introduction of self-driving cars.
The report, commissioned by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in 2018, is the culmination of three consultations undertaken between 2018 and 2021, with input from "hundreds of stakeholders" from across the automotive industry and other sectors.
It has been presented to parliament and the Scottish Parliament, but the law commissions say "it will be for the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments to decide whether to accept the commissions’ recommendations and introduce legislation to bring them into effect".
The recommendations made build on reforms introduced by the 2018 Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, which ensured that any victims of a self-driving car crash did not have to prove anyone was at fault, and are compensated directly by the insurer.
In line with the introduction of more advanced autonomous functionality across the vehicle parc, and the adoption of new laws worldwide that facilitate the use of such technology, the report suggests that a clear distinction should be drawn between "features which just assist drivers, such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self-driving".
The overarching recommendation of the report is the introduction of a dedicated Automated Vehicles Act, which would usher in regulations and legal framework specifically tailored to cars that are capable of driving themselves.
"The driver can no longer be the principal focus of accountability for road safety," say the commissions, in a situation where they are not in control of the vehicle themselves.