Driverless Cars Face Major Legal Hurdles Before Release, Experts say

In the age of self-driving cars, human drivers should not be held legally liable for road safety, according to a research.

According to the law commissioners for England and Wales and Scotland, the driver in these automobiles should be reclassified as a “user-in-charge” with radically different legal obligations.

If something goes wrong, the business that created the driving system will be held liable, not the driver.

A new system should also define what constitutes a self-driving car.

In the meanwhile, automakers must make the distinction between self-driving and driver-assist systems crystal obvious.

There should be no such thing as a driverless automobile with a sliding range of capabilities; a car is either autonomous or not.

If any kind of monitoring is necessary, such as in adverse weather, it should not be deemed autonomous, and current driving standards should apply.

In 2018, a series of studies on the legislative framework for autonomous cars and their usage on public roads were requested from law commissions.

Their suggestions in this final report are as follows:

  • A user-in-charge cannot be punished for offenses coming directly from the driving duty, such as risky driving, speeding, or running a red light, but he or she is still accountable for other responsibilities, such as insurance and making sure everyone is wearing seatbelts.
  • Some cars may be permitted to drive themselves with no one in the driver’s seat and the voyage overseen by a licensed operator.
  • Data needed to determine guilt and liability in the aftermath of an accident must be available.
  • Sanctions will be imposed on automakers who do not divulge how their systems work.

Trudy Harrison, the minister of transportation, stated that the government will “carefully consider” the proposals.

The governments of Scotland and Wales will also decide whether or not to enact laws.

Thatcham Research was involved in the consultation, and Matthew Avery, chief research strategy officer, said: “We applaud the recommendations requiring carmakers to use appropriate terminology when marketing these systems in order to prevent drivers from believing their vehicle is fully self-driving when it is not.

“We’re expected to see the first iterations of self-driving features on automobiles in the UK within the next 12 months.

“It’s crucial that the Law Commission study emphasizes the driver’s legal responsibilities and how they must recognize that their car isn’t totally self-driving yet.”

The Department for Transport approved automatic lane-keeping systems (ALKS) last year, making them the first sort of hands-free driving to be permitted in the UK.

ALKS drivers will not need to watch the road or keep their hands on the wheel, but they will need to be awake and be prepared to take control within 10 seconds if the system requests it.

Tesla, one of the major firms developing self-driving vehicles, has been bombarded with questions over its marketing of Autopilot, which is comparable to ALKS and is categorized as level two of the five self-driving car levels.

Last week, prosecutors in California filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of a Tesla who ran a red light while using Autopilot, colliding with another car and killing two people – the first time a driver has been charged with manslaughter while using a partially automated driving system.

In the past, a motorist in the United States was killed while utilizing Autopilot while playing a video game.

A UK citizen was also prohibited from driving after hopping into the passenger seat of his Tesla on the highway in 2018.

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