Response to the safe introduction of self-driving vehicles Law Commissions report

In response to the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission (the Law Commissions) joint report on the safe introduction of self-driving vehicles, Niall Edwards, partner at Kennedys, says:

“The Law Commissions should be congratulated for their thorough work over three consultations leading now to the practical recommendations for self-driving vehicles in this report.

“The devil, of course, will be in how the details are developed by government, but we feel – subject to a closer review of the report itself - that our insurer clients will be broadly supportive that the Law Commissions have taken on board many of the practical points we raised on their behalf, in particular around the difference between ‘driver assisted’ and ‘self-driving’ vehicles, minimum regulatory safety and compliance standards, the logic around hand-over/hand-back ‘transition demands’ and, critically, public buy-in.

It is right for the Law Commissions to highlight the important distinction to the way vehicles that are ‘driver assisted’ rather than ‘self-driving’ are marketed. The public need to fully understand the differences and a harmonisation of terminology is essential. Ultimately, underpinning any successful implementation of self-driving vehicles will be public confidence.

“As such, our own extensive global research has indicated that a long-term government-led education campaign will be required if self-driving vehicles are to become a commercial reality in a reasonable timescale.”