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[NEWS] Clarity urgently needed in remote driving law, says review

Clarity urgently needed in remote driving law, says review

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The review looked into whether remote drivers felt detachment from the real world

Law Commission probe recommends a short-term prohibition measure while a legal framework is developed

A review of remote driving conducted by the Law Commission has recommended that the government urgently provides clarity in the legislation around the new technology.

The review, commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), investigated several pressing questions surrounding the technology.

These included how reliable the connection between the driver and the car is, whether the driver has suitable situational awareness and whether they feel detachment from the real world, as well as cybersecurity threats and accident liability.

The Law Commission has recommended that, in the short term, the government uses a prohibition measure to address gaps in existing legislation.

Such a measure could require companies wanting to use remote driving beyond line of sight, on roads, without an in-vehicle safety driver, to apply for a Special Vehicle Order permit.

Public law commissioner Nicholas Paines KC said: “Our advice concludes that in the immediate term, the government would be able to address some gaps in the law around remote driving using existing powers, while also providing a path for companies to use the technology lawfully provided that their systems are safe.

“In the longer term, it could set up a full system of remote driving regulation.”

Read more: One firm's goal to replace car ownership with remotely driven rentals

Such a system would need to cover the concerns mentioned above, as well as establishing safety standards and licensing.

As for legal liability, the Law Commission has recommended that remote drivers should not be liable for problems beyond their control, such as those caused by connectivity problems or faulty equipment. In these cases, the companies should be subject to sanctions or (in serious cases) prosecution.

The commission has also advised a ban on remote driving from overseas, given a lack in enforcement powers abroad.

Victims of road incidents caused by remote drivers should receive no-fault compensation, said the commission.

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