UK gov urged to hurry on self-driving vehicle legislation – or risk losing edge
The UK will need to swiftly pass new legislation for Self-Driving Vehicles to maintain its edge over international counterparts in the industry, warned Iain Stewart, chair of the UK Parliament’s cross party Transport Committee.
The Conservative MP’s comments are backed up by other reports which stress that a delay in legislation might deter start-ups hoping to make their vehicles or components commercially available quickly and inhibit insurer’s abilities to assess their safety.
Despite considerable progress in preparation for the integration of SDVs, fully driverless vehicles still aren’t currently permitted in the UK.
“All that hard work could be at risk if the UK government doesn’t follow through and bring forward a Transport Bill in the next Parliamentary session, before the next general election,” Stewart said in a statement.
To realise the full potential of the local SDVs industry, Stewart stressed the importance of negotiating obstacles such as public trust in SDV safety, security risks, and potential repercussions for traditional road users.
Though changes have been made to accommodate driverless vehicles in the past, the Transport Committee argued that the government’s recently proposed ‘safety ambition’ is “too weak, and too vague”, and that current laws around SDVs are “archaic and limiting”.
The committee is adamant that comprehensive legislation, addressing vehicle approvals, accident liability, cyber-security, and personal data management, must be introduced.
Failure to do so, they say, could threaten the viability of the UK’s SDV industry or tarnish its pioneering reputation.
The committee also argued that any new legislation should include “changes to driving tests and a plan to ensure all drivers fully understand SDVs,” without imposing any new responsibilities on other road users or pedestrians or make them less safe in any way.
Manufacturers like Toyota have already begun making changes to their safety testing to accommodate for SDVs.
The arrival of SDVs will necessitate comprehensive infrastructural adaptations, such as well-maintained roads, adequate signage, optimal connectivity, and real-time digital road mapping.
The committee urged that meeting these needs should be an integral part of future infrastructure strategies.
“In time, SDVs have the potential to improve connectivity and provide significant benefits for safety and productivity in industries such as logistics,” it concluded.
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