Human drivers to be legally responsible for control of automated vehicles

Human drivers should be continue to be held legally responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles, no matter how fully automated these may be, according to the National Transport Commission.

The ruling is contained in a new NTC new Policy paper, Clarifying control of automated vehicles.

The NTC has identified more than 700 legislative barriers to the introduction of driverless vehicles, and is aiming to have all regulatory and legislative issues resolved by 2020 to allow driverless vehicles on the road.

In a foreword to the paper, NTC Chairman and Commissioner David Anderson said “A lack of clarity around responsibility presents a number of challenges to the deployment of vehicles with automated functions in Australia”.

“Uncertainty could create barriers to entry, disrupt effective and efficient enforcement of road traffic laws, and, where control is interpreted differently across jurisdictions, create consumer uncertainty”.

Mr Anderson said the policy paper’s directions and recommendations were part of a NTC project to develop national enforcement guidelines to ensure police were able to apply road traffic laws to vehicles with automated functions in a nationally consistent manner.

“The guidelines are a dynamic document that will be updated as automated vehicle technologies and international developments evolve,’’ Mr Anderson wrote.

COAG's Transport and Infrastructure Council agreed to the National Enforcement Guidelines for Automated Vehicles at its recent meeting in Hobart.

The Council meeting also agreed that governments should aim to have “end-to-end regulation in place by 2020 to support the safe deployment of automated vehicles”.

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