British Law Commissions Propose Immunity From Some Driving Offences by Users of Self-Driving Cars

Haroon Siddique, the Guardian:

Users of self-driving cars should have immunity from a wide range of motoring offences, including dangerous driving, speeding and jumping red lights, Britain’s law commissions have jointly recommended.

The Law Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission propose creation of an Automated Vehicles Act to reflect the “profound legal consequences” of self-driving cars. The person in the driving seat would no longer responsible for how the car drives; instead, the company or body that obtained authorisation for the self-driving vehicle would face regulatory sanctions if anything went wrong.

On its face, this sounds right to me. Either a car is autonomous, or it is equipped with driver aids that do not replace the human behind the wheel. It is cowardly to imply a more advanced technology capable of absolving drivers of active control while still holding them liable for the car’s poor or inattentive behaviour.

The devil is in the details, though, and what separates a driver aid from an autonomous driving technology is a blurry line.