Driverless Car Regulations – An International Perspective

California continues to be delayed in releasing their long-overdue deadline (January 1st, 2015) to develop regulations for the public use of autonomous vehicles (AVs). They, along with Michigan, Florida, and Nevada, are the states to watch with regards to how the United States will regulate the use of autonomous vehicles. In the meantime, there are six states (including Washington, D.C.) that have regulations in place for the testing of AVs. As this site shows, many other states have pending legislation.

While many countries are waiting to see how the United States will regulate AVs, the United Kingdom took a major step forward by developing a 14-page Code of Practice for the testing of automated vehicle technologies.  The code of practice covers common sense advice, such as vehicles tested on public roads should obey all relevant road traffic laws, and it states that vehicles should include data recording devices to track the vehicle’s movements and any safety issues.  With regards to cyber security, it states that vehicle owners should ensure that “all prototype automated controllers and other vehicle systems have appropriate levels of security built into them to manage any risk of unauthorized access”.

As described in this article, the UK government stated that the publication of the code of practice is non-statutory and developed to promote responsible testing, alongside “detailed knowledge of the legal, regulatory and technological landscape”. However, failure to follow the code may be “relevant to liability in any legal proceedings. Similarly, compliance with the code does not guarantee immunity from liability in such circumstances”.  Interestingly, the government is encouraging “good behavior” without requiring or enforcing it. I think it’s a great approach (quite different from the U.S. government’s typical regulating approach); however, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.  All it will take is one accident caused by an AV in the U.K. and….

About Lauren Isaac

I am the Manager of Transportation Sustainability at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Recently, I won the William Barclay Parsons fellowship for my research proposal to study how the United States government should respond to driverless cars. As I'm working on my research, I thought this blog would help to disseminate my findings and provide a forum for feedback.
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