New legislative framework needed for automated vehicles, says Faculty of Advocates

22 Mar

The Faculty was responding to the Joint Consultation Paper of the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission into a regulatory framework for automated vehicles.

This regulatory scheme should provide for transparency and accountability and for there to be independence in testing, and this higher level of scrutiny and transparency should be enshrined in primary legislation, said the Faculty.

The point of departure when deciding if an automated vehicle was safe or not should be that it was as “safe as a competent and careful human driver.”

“In our view, the ultimate liability for the safety of the vehicles must remain with the manufacturer and not be assumed by the regulator. However, we agree that there must be adequate and independent scrutiny of safety claims. The regulatory scheme must avoid the twin dangers of over-reliance on manufacturers’ safety case claims (such as may have been the case with the Grenfell cladding) or specific tests (as with the diesel emissions scandal where manufacturers became focussed on achieving the best test performance regardless of real-world performance).

The Faculty also agreed with a proposal in the Joint Consultation Paper that a specialist incident investigation unit be established to analyse data on collisions involving automated vehicles, to investigate serious, complex or high-profile collisions, and to make recommendations to improve safety.

Asked for its view on who should administer an operator licensing scheme as regards automated vehicles, the Faculty said it believed this should be done by the DVSA on behalf of traffic commissioners as it was a task “broadly aligned with existing obligations held by DVSA.

The Faculty’s full response can be accessed here.