The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) has asked the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission to undertake a far-reaching review of the legal framework for automated vehicles, and their use as part of public transport networks and on-demand passenger services. This is a three-year project running from March 2018 to March 2021.
As part of this review, PACTS has responded to the Law Commissions consultation.
The full response can be found here.
We have summarised our general views below.
PACTS Policy on Automated Vehicles
- AVs should comply with traffic laws
- AVs should be required to improve safety substantially, for all road users. They must also make VRUs feel safe, eg not passing close, at speed or braking harshly, except in an emergency.
- AVs should fit existing urban and rural environments – not require significant change (improved signs and lines acceptable)
- VRUs should not be restricted to accommodate AVs (beyond existing restrictions on Motorways and other limited cases, such as some tunnels and bridges.) Government policy is to make active travel modes (walking and cycling) the default for local trips. AVs should support this policy, not work against it.
- AVs should comply with the six ethical principles for robots set out by Prof Alan Winfield.
There needs to be recognition that public perceptions of safety are not entirely “rational”. Comparisons of collision or casualty rates will not be adequate to gain public trust. The public expect much higher safety standards where they are not in control, eg public transport, compared with situations where they are in control, eg driving. The public is likely to expect AVs to be very safe, on a par with public transport. AVs must also feel safe, eg no harsh braking or fast cornering, even if this can be objectively shown as safe.