UK government says self-driving carmakers liable for crashes in new framework

  • November 9, 2023

Upcoming legislation in the UK is set to assign legal responsibility for crashes involving self-driving cars to manufacturers rather than individual car owners. King Charles announced the government’s plan to introduce an Automated Vehicles Bill as part of the legislative agenda for the forthcoming parliamentary session.

Under this legislation, companies developing self-driving vehicles will face fines and potential criminal action if their vehicles fail to meet safety standards in severe cases. Moreover, individuals driving in autonomous cars will receive immunity from prosecution in the event of a crash when the vehicle is in a self-driving mode. The legislation also aims to clamp down on misleading marketing practices, allowing only vehicles meeting specific safety criteria to be advertised as self-driving.

The government asserts that the bill prioritises user protection and safety in the AV industry, placing the responsibility for the vehicle’s actions on the company behind its development, not the individual using it.

The legislation includes provisions for independent ‘no blame’ crash investigations for collisions involving self-driving cars, a measure that ETSC has advocated for over several years as an essential pre-requisite for the deployment of automated driving technology.