driverless car

Driverless vehicles have long been the stuff of science fiction, but with each passing day, it seems we edge closer and closer to making them a reality. It’s safe to say that there are still plenty of hurdles in the way of widespread rollout of driverless vehicles. Many of these hurdles can be attributed to logistical and practical factors, but many others are legal in their nature.

A few of these were highlighted in a report by the UK Law Commission, which stated that human drivers should not be held legally accountable for road safety, when the era of autonomous vehicles fully comes to fruition. The report goes on to say that drivers of such vehicles should be redefined as “users-in-charge”, and should adhere to a slightly different set of legal guidelines.

Essentially, this means that if anything were to go wrong with an automated vehicle while it’s on the road, the driver would not be held responsible, the manufacturer of the vehicle would be. The report also recommends that a new framework be put in place to define whether a vehicle qualifies as self-driving. This means car manufacturers will be made to clearly define the difference between self-drive, and driver-assist features from now on, so the law can be applied in a fair and just manner.

Fully driverless vehicles are still a little way off at this point though, so if you’re looking for a personal vehicle which you can drive yourself, you’re in the right place. Many of the models we stock in our online car auctions here at RAW2K include damaged and light damaged cars. The exact nature of the damage in question can vary between technical, electronic or body damage, and can range from light to severe. So, it’s unlikely you’ll find two of the same vehicles listed with the same damage specification.

So, here’s the latest surrounding driverless car legislation.

Risks to other road users

The UK Law Commission for England, Scotland and Wales was asked in 2018 to produce a series of reports on the regulatory framework for automated vehicles. This report included a few recommendations in its final points:

  • The ‘user-in-charge’ of the vehicle can not be prosecuted for offences that directly arise from driving tasks, such as dangerous driving and speeding.
  • The ‘user-in-charge’ should remain responsible for other tasks like insuring the vehicle and ensuring passenger safety by ensuring everyone is wearing a seatbelt.
  • Some vehicles may be allowed to drive themselves with no-one in the driving seat.
  • Data to understand fault and liability following a collision must be accessible to all.
  • Sanctions should be imposed on carmakers who fail to reveal how their autonomous driver systems work.

As a result of this report, the UK Government announced that any cars fitted with automatic lane-keeping systems (ALKS) will be permitted to drive at a speed of up to 37mph in a single lane without the driver needing to interact. Automatic lane-keeping basically makes sure a vehicle stays in its own lane, and controls the car’s speed and braking. This has served as the first step in introducing specific legislation to hands-free vehicles on UK roads.

How has the government reacted to the report?

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said the government would “fully consider” the recommendations laid out in the report, and according to Matthew Avery, chief research strategy officer at Thatcham Research: “We applaud the recommendations that compel carmakers to use appropriate terminology when marketing these systems, to prevent motorists from becoming convinced that their car is fully self-driving when it is not.”

He continued: “In the next 12 months, we’re likely to see the first iterations of self-driving features on cars in the UK [so] it’s significant that the Law Commission report highlights the driver’s legal obligations and how they must understand that their vehicle is not yet fully self-driving”.

There’s certainly reason to believe that driverless cars will massively change the way we think about road laws moving into the future. Until this time comes though, you can always rely on us to provide you with the very best deals on used and scrap vehicles. Our salvage cars attract thousands of trade and non-trade customers from around the UK, who bid on them in our fast, easy online vehicle auctions. So, whether you’re just a hobbyist, or a full time professional mechanic, why not see what you can find?