Great Britain wants to promote autonomous driving. By 2025, self-driving cars and buses are to be the norm on British roads. With regard to liability in fully automated driving mode, a landmark decision has now been made: the British government wants to make car manufacturers liable for accidents.
Recommendation from legal commissions
With the plan now put forward to release people behind the wheel in fully automated mode from liability, the UK government is following recommendations from the Law Commission for England and Wales and the Law Commission for Scotland. Both had argued that it was not sensible to hold a person, who in fact has no influence on the behavior of the car, responsible for it. Instead, in the event of an accident, either the manufacturer of the car or the institution that operates it should be liable.
With this regulation, the British government wants to set the course for the expansion of autonomous driving. In turn, it expects this expansion to lead to greater road safety, more opportunities to participate in private transport, better access to rural regions and a massive increase in jobs in the sector. The plan is to create 38,000 new jobs.
More opportunities to participate in individual transport
Opportunities to participate in individual transportation are likely to increase significantly, especially for all those people who, for health or other reasons, are unable to drive a vehicle independently. Until now, individual transportation has only been available to them through other people driving them. Autonomous driving would also enable them to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. This is likely to be particularly useful in rural regions, where there is often not a very well-developed public transport system that could be used as an alternative. On-demand driving services are also being considered, so that not too many financial resources are needed to participate in autonomous driving.
Different rules in Germany
In Germany, the legal situation so far looks fundamentally different. Here, autonomous driving under supervision has been permitted in certain operating areas since May 2021. Only recently, the permitted maximum speed for autonomous vehicles was raised to 130 km/h. However, the person behind the wheel will always be held liable for accidents – even in fully automated mode, in which he or she has no influence on the vehicle’s behavior.