A review of driving laws has been commissioned by the government as it works to make Britain “one of the best places in the world to develop, test and drive self-driving vehicles”.
The three-year review will be conducted by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission in an attempt to find any legal obstacles to the widespread introduction of driverless cars.
The Department for Transport says the move is “crucial” if laws written with traditional vehicles in mind are to be adapted for next-generation motoring.
Roads minister Jesse Norman said: “The UK is a world leader for self-driving vehicle research and development, and this work marks an important milestone in our continued commitment to the technology.
“With driving technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, it is important that our laws and regulations keep pace so that the UK can remain one of the world leaders in this field.”
Law commissioner Nicholas Paines QC said: “British roads are already among the safest in the world and automated vehicles have the potential to make them even safer, provided our laws are ready for them.
“We’ll now start consulting widely on how the law should work with this new technology and develop reforms which enable the use of self-driving vehicles in the years to come.”
Norman revealed the review while attending the Gateway Project in Greenwich. Run by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), it has been developing the use of autonomous vehicles, working on an automated valet parking trial and, with Ocado, on a driverless food delivery service as part of wider research.
Rob Wallis, the chief executive of TRL, said: “We are seeing a global revolution in transport, transforming how we will travel in the future. Connectivity, electrification, automation and shared mobility are the four main themes driving this innovation.
“Regulation, safety standards and vehicle insurance models all have a key part to play in enabling change, whilst giving society confidence that these new products and services can be introduced safely. The Gateway Project, led by TRL, is providing vital scientific insight to help shape future regulatory standards and to better understand public perceptions associated with these new mobility solutions.”