Law commission outlines legal proposals for self-driving cars

Law commissions outline legal proposals for self-driving cars

The person in the driving seat of a self-driven car would be known as a ‘user-in-charge’ under the terms of the proposed rules. Thus, they cannot be prosecuted for “offences which arise directly from the driving task”, including dangerous driving, speeding and running a red light. They should still, however, be insured, check the stability of any loads and make sure children are wearing their seatbelts.

In the event of an infraction or incident, the ASDE – which is to say the vehicle manufacturer or self-driving software developer – would work with a regulatory body to avoid a repeat occurrence, and could face sanctions.

In appropriately certified fully self-driving cars, all occupants would be classed as passengers, with a licensed operator responsible for the journey being carried out safely. 

Crucially, the report also calls for driver assistance features to be marketed separately to self-driving functionality, which it says “would help to minimise the risk of collisions caused by members of the public thinking that they do not need to pay attention to the road while a driver assistance feature is in operation”. 

In 2020, Tesla’s use of the term ‘Autopilot’ to describe its cars’ autonomous driving capabilities was labelled “misleading for consumers” by a German court. Even equipped with the Autopilot software and the optional ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ package, Tesla models were found to be unable to complete a journey without human intervention.