Australia not prepared for automated vehicles

Australia is unprepared for the arrival of automated vehicles, and needs to accelerate legislative reform and conduct more trials if it’s to reap the benefits of new mobility platforms.

A report by the National Roads and Motorists' Association, public transport operator Keolis Downer, and professional services group PwC says the current regulatory environment doesn’t allow for highly or fully automated vehicles to operate on Australian roads, while most road rules assume that a human being is in control at all times.

“State and territory road rules must now recognise that a vehicle can be driven by an automated driving system rather than a human being,” the report says.

“To achieve this, road rules that are presently expressed to apply to a driver should be amended so that they instead apply to a vehicle operator.”

As well as amending road transport and safety legislation, federal, state and territory governments need to consider liability, insurance, privacy and data frameworks, and try to better understand “subjective issues such as consumer acceptance, ethics and trust”.

“To support a new era of mobility, land use and planning will need to be re-thought, including the requisite for Local Government to provide on-street and off-street parking infrastructure,” the report says.

Among other recommendations, the report suggests that “Regulatory change to accommodate connected and automated vehicles should be fast-tracked [and] necessary amendments to road rules should be put in place next year”.

As well as improving productivity, social inclusion and liveability, connected and automated vehicles will reduce the number of privately owned cars on Australian roads and meaningfully reduce transport emissions, the report concludes.

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