Automated Vehicles

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

We have published our report on automated vehicles.

Documents

Summary of automated vehicles: joint report

Automated Vehicles: joint report

Background Papers

Analysis of responses to Consultation Paper 3

All responses to Consultation Paper 3

Impact assessment

Overview

Overview (Welsh translation)

 

The project

Our work began in 2018 when the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) asked the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission to undertake a far-reaching review to enable the safe and responsible introduction of automated vehicles on GB roads and public places.

By automated vehicles we refer to vehicles that are capable of driving themselves without being controlled or monitored by an individual for at least part of a journey.

The project has involved three rounds of consultation. Between November 2018 and December 2020, we published three consultation papers and received a total of 404 written responses. We have also held more than 350 meetings with interested parties. We are extremely grateful to all those who contributed to this project, giving us so much of their time and expertise to help us formulate our recommendations.

On 26 January 2022 we published a joint report with the Scottish Law Commission with recommendations for legal reform.

Key recommendations

Throughout this project, we have strived to keep safety at the forefront of our proposals, while also retaining the flexibility required to accommodate future development.

Our recommendations cover initial approval and authorisation of self-driving vehicles, ongoing monitoring of their performance while they are on the road, misleading marketing, and both criminal and civil liability. They include:

  • Writing the test for self-driving into law, with a bright line distinguishing it from driver support features, a transparent process for setting a safety standard, and new offences to prevent misleading marketing.
  • A two-stage approval and authorisation process building on current international and domestic technical vehicle approval schemes and adding a new second stage to authorise vehicles for use as self-driving on GB roads.
  • A new in-use safety assurance scheme to provide regulatory oversight of automated vehicles throughout their lifetimes to ensure they continue to be safe and comply with road rules.
  • New legal roles for users, manufacturers and service operators, with removal of criminal responsibility for the person in the passenger seat.
  • Holding manufacturers and service operators criminally responsible for misrepresentation or non-disclosure of safety-relevant information.

From consultation to report

In November 2018 we launched our first three-month consultation on safety assurance and legal liability. We published an analysis of responses and interim findings in June 2019.

In October 2020, our second consultation focused on highly automated road passenger services (HARPS), looking at how automated vehicles could be used to improve public transport. We published an analysis of responses and interim findings in May 2020.

Our third consultation was launched in December 2020 and drew on responses to both previous papers to formulate overarching proposals on the way forward. The closing date for responses was 18 March 2021. After analysing responses, we published all the responses received alongside a summary of responses and a draft Impact Assessment in July 2021. The full analysis of responses was published alongside our report, on 26 January 2022.

All our previous consultation papers, analysis documents and the full text of all responses received can be found at the bottom of this page, under the heading “Consultations and related documents”.

Next steps

The automated vehicles joint report has been laid before Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. The UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments will decide whether to accept our recommendations and introduce legislation to bring them into effect.

Contact

By email to automatedvehicles@lawcommission.gov.uk or by phone 020 3334 0200.

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law

Commissioner

Nicholas Paines QC