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Commission calls for help on autonomous laws
Auto pilot: Car-makers, including Mercedes-Benz, are increasingly rolling out automated technology such as lane-keeping aids.
NTC calls for public submissions on how best to develop automated car legislation
8 February 2016
THE National Transport Commission (NTC) has called for public submissions on
how best to shape and manage the laws that will govern automated vehicles in
Last week the commission released a paper calling for submissions from
technology experts, transports policy makers, car-makers and the wider
community on how to develop the most appropriate laws relating to autonomous
The NTC points out that car-makers are rapidly introducing levels of automation
into their vehicles, including stop/start traffic pilot, adaptive cruise
control, autonomous braking and lane-keeping aids.
While premium brands including Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Volvo offer
some of this technology, increasingly, mainstream brands such as Subaru are
also introducing it to their models.
The commission says that the availability of this technology, ahead of more
advanced versions and a wider roll out, brings up issues such as “interaction
between road transport, rail safety and consumer protection laws, as well as
liability and insurance, and common law requirements need to be addressed”.
NTC chief executive Paul Retter said that while the benefits of self-driving
vehicles for the elderly or disabled are clear, more needs to be done to
identify the issues associated with the technology.
“Governments and industry need to work together to make sure Australians get
the best laws for these new vehicles,” he said.
“While we have already identified a number of potential issues we are asking
anyone with an interest in the future of transport to have their say. This
feedback will help to make sure we address all of the issues associated with
“For example, many road safety laws assume that there will always be a human
driver, but how do automated vehicles comply with a legal requirement to hold a
driver’s licence, or comply with authorised officers or give assistance if a
person is injured?
“The NTC will need to look at fundamental concepts including defining the
driver, what is meant by ‘control of the vehicle’ and consider how automated
vehicles should interact with other road users.”
According to the NTC, the idea behind the issues paper, released last week, is
to examine Australian regulations and highlight any regulatory barriers
relating to automated road and rail vehicles.
The paper gives an overview of the existing regulations and identifies issues
such as clarifying who or what has control of the vehicle and compliance with
traffic laws, vehicles standards and safety assurance, liability and
responsibility for actions of the automated vehicle and data and privacy
The NTC describes itself as an independent statutory body contributing to “the
achievement of national transport policy objectives by developing regulatory
and operational reform of road, rail and intermodal transport”.
Submissions will be accepted up to and including Tuesday March 8.