Driverless vehicle regulations being examined by Law Commissions

There is to be a three year regulatory review into driverless vehicles, commissioned by the UK government.

The Department for Transport has released a statement saying that the Law Commission of England and Wales as well as the Scottish Law Commission will “examine any legal obstacles to the widespread introduction of self-driving vehicles and highlight the need for regulatory reforms”.

The Roads Minister, Jesse Norman said: “The UK is a world leader for self-driving vehicle research and development, and this work marks an important milestone in our continued commitment to the technology.

“With driving technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, it is important that our laws and regulations keep pace so that the UK can remain one of the world leaders in this field.”

There are a whole raft of regulatory measures that are needed to be revisited or put in place to permit driverless vehicles on UK roads, and the Law Commissions will need to examine these. Who will be responsible when there is an accident? What will be the role of driverless vehicles in public transport networks? How will driverless car sharing be run and regulated? Will new offences be made possible and what will these be? Will drink driving regulations still be effective when the sole occupant is not in control of the vehicle? What will be the impact on other road users and how will they be protected?

One word of warning from experts in the field: you cannot regulate something that does not yet exist, and there is a risk of regulating something that will never exist or over-regulating something that may not need such regulation.