Safety a must in plans for passenger-carrying automated vehicles, says Faculty

10 Feb



SAFETY must be the top priority in allowing driverless buses on to our roads, the Faculty has insisted.

Issues surrounding Highly Automated Road Passenger Services (HARPS) are being examined by the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission of England and Wales in their second consultation paper on automated vehicles.

In a response, the Faculty supported plans for HARPS to be treated in a regulatory category of their own, rather than “shoehorned” into existing schemes, such as for private hire vehicles.

It also backed a single national system of operator licensing, rather than local regimes, and said: “When considering licensing issues, the paramount consideration should be ensuring the safety of users and of the general public. The requirement for businesses to have an operator licence will be an effective way of ensuring safety through the attaching of conditions to that licence, such as maintenance of vehicles and the ability to provide the advertised service.”

The Faculty added: “The safety of HARPS has two aspects – technical safety, ie safety of the equipment involved, and practical safety – ie safety of the persons on board from other passengers. Operators might not be able to guarantee passenger safety in the same way that, say, having a human driver might be able to and this is perhaps something that should be considered when looking into operator licence requirements.

“Is it reasonable for the operator to have to ensure practical safety of passengers…should operator licences only be issued for HAPRS if there is a designated operator employee on board in a security capacity or could safety requirements be met by the use of distant monitoring by means of remotely operated surveillance cameras?”

The Faculty said on-board CCTV was now the norm on buses and trains, and argued that CCTV should be mandatory on HARPS vehicles, at least in the absence on board of a human steward or similar person charged with ensuring passenger safety.