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Plans for a new legal framework are being drawn up by the Law Commissions of England, Wales and Scotland surrounding the safety of future self-driving vehicles. The thorough proposals will create a set of rules for the futuristic cars, ensuring a safe rollout of this state-of-the-art technology.

These include: implementing a safety assurance scheme (including the continued monitoring of vehicles’ performance and software updates), defining the responsibilities of the driver and recognising the role of manufacturers.

Automated vehicles will fall into two different categories: one for vehicles which can complete sections of the journey itself (during motorway driving, for example) but would require a human to take over the rest of the way, and one for those which can perform an entire journey without the need for an accompanying person.

When the car is driving itself, but a person is needed in the vehicle, the individual becomes the ‘user-in-charge’. This means that they are responsible for certain details (like insurance) but not for driving the vehicle.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “Self-driving vehicles can contribute to improving and levelling up transport across the country, making everyday journeys greener, safer, more flexible and more reliable.

“The UK is leading the way on the regulation of this technology, supporting innovation and putting safety at the heart of everything we do – ensuring self-driving vehicles are safe, secure and ultimately benefit all of society.”

The upcoming framework will be “underpinned by robust incident investigation and enforced through a flexible range of regulatory powers and sanctions”, the Law Commissions said.

These legal plans have been published as the final consultation from the Law Commissions after being tasked with the review by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). The full report is expected to be released in the last quarter of the year.

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