SELF DRIVING cars will force the Highway Code to “change entirely” as most of the rules “will be redundant” under the new technology, according to solicitors.
Legal experts say road rules will have to be “changed entirely” to ensure the laws are relevant to the new driverless technology. Specialists warn drivers may not need to be taught things like stopping distances or how to indicate as cars will do this automatically.
Hojol Uddin, Head of Motoring and Partner at JMW Solicitors said the new technology will help the car do “everything else we were taught to do”.
He said: “The Highway Code will have to be changed entirely to determine the relevance of certain rules.
“For example will the driver really need to know stopping distances and times if the computer is going to do the thinking for you as well as the stopping.
“In addition, will it be necessary for mirror signal manoeuvre being drilled into every student when cars of the future will do this for you?
“Most of the Highway Code will be redundant, as cars will be able to read signs and everything else we were taught to do.”
The comments come just a day after the Department for Transport has given the green light for cars with Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) to use UK roads in the near future.
The DFT has launched a consultation on potential Highway Code rules changes to ensure the technology is used safely and responsibly.
The consultation is set to conclude on May 28, 2021 with new rules likely to be set out soon afterwards.
Mr Uddin added: “The whole legal framework will need to be changed to take driverless cars into consideration.
“The Law Commission is currently in its last consultation phase.
“This takes into consideration every scenario relating to autonomous vehicles and developing an Automated Driving System (ADS – a system within a vehicle not the vehicle itself).”
The Law Commission’s consultation is aiming to seek views on a proposed regulatory framework for automated vehicles.
This would create distinctive rules for two types of automated vehicles, – cars which need some human interaction and those which can complete a journey themselves.
The analysis hopes to create a new set of legal responsibilities for developers of automated vehicles.
This may even mean drivers are not penalised in the event of an accident as they would be viewed merely as users or passengers rather than a motorist in control of the vehicle.
The Law Commission says they are currently analysing responses with the final report due in the last quarter of 2021.
The DfT has suggested self-driving vehicles could help spark the end of urban congestion which would reduce emissions and improve air quality.
Self-driving cars could also improve access to transport for those with mobility issues and lead to more reliable public transport.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said the new tool was a major step for the use of driverless cars in the UK but urged the technology must be “deployed safely”.
She said: “This is a major step for the safe use of self-driving vehicles in the UK, making future journeys greener, easier and more reliable while also helping the nation to build back better.
“But we must ensure that this exciting new tech is deployed safely, which is why we are consulting on what the rules to enable this should look like.
“In doing so, we can improve transport for all, securing the UK’s place as a global science superpower.”