Human drivers in UK won’t be liable for accidents when vehicle is self-driving

According to the country’s new strategy to achieve a wider rollout of self-driving vehicles by 2025, manufacturers running self-driving vehicles in the U.K. will be responsible for a vehicle’s activities when in autonomous mode.

The plan was presented by the British government over the weekend, along with financial announcements totaling $119 million for AV projects and an extra $41 million for research to promote safety and new laws.

A human driver “would not be accountable for events linked to driving while the vehicle is in charge of driving,” according to the roadmap, because manufacturers are responsible for the acts of self-driving vehicles. New legislation will build on current rules and indicate this.

In a world where culpability in the event of autonomous vehicle accidents can still be a bit of a fuzzy area, this distinction may establish a precedent. The human safety operator operating the autonomous Uber test car that killed a pedestrian in 2017 was charged with negligent murder with a dangerous instrument. Uber was not prosecuted. Additionally, the driver, not Tesla, was charged with two felonies for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence following a fatal collision in 2019 using a Tesla vehicle that was on Autopilot.

Britain has started a consultation session on a “safety aspiration” for self-driving cars to be as safe as a human driver as the nation gets ready to establish new legislation pertaining to AVs. The outcomes of the consultation would aid in developing the requirements for using autonomous cars on public roads, as well as any potential penalties for not meeting those requirements.

The transition from assisted driving, where the driver maintains control, to self-driving, when the automobile assumes control, is still rather substantial. The interaction of these cars with other road users on various highways and in varying weather situations has to be studied by the government, according to AA president Edmund King. The ultimate goal, however, is definitely worth pursuing because it might save thousands of lives and increase the mobility of the elderly and less mobile people.

The U.K. aims to capitalise on the developing market for AVs, which it values at roughly $50 billion and predicts could generate 38,000 new employment, in addition to creating regulations to safeguard the safety of autonomous technology. About $24 million of the overall funding would be used to help launch commercial self-driving services, such self-driving grocery deliveries or airport shuttle pods. An additional $7 million will be used to assist commercialization and conduct more market research.

According to transport secretary Grant Shapps, “We want the UK to be at the forefront of developing and using this fantastic technology, which is why we are investing millions in crucial research into safety and setting the legislation to ensure we gain the full benefits that this technology promises.”

According to the authorities, drivers with valid driver’s licences may be allowed to purchase self-driving cars within the upcoming year. Despite being among the best-selling cars in the UK, Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), which includes a number of autonomous driving features, is not yet available to British drivers due to legal restrictions. New regulations may pave the way for vehicles with more advanced ADAS as well as ride-hailing, delivery, and public transit.

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