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Government to draft new self-driving laws
NTC, Australian transport ministers agree to draft new automated vehicle laws
1 Jun 2018
THE National Transport Commission (NTC) has announced it is collaborating with Australian state, territory and Commonwealth governments to draft new legislation around the use of automated vehicles on local roads.
According to NTC chief executive Paul Retter, the new laws will come into place in 2020 result in greater certainty for manufacturers looking to launch more automated technology in Australia.
The proposed legislation changes will allow more automated driving systems to operate instead of a human, as well as ensuring there is always a legal entity responsible for automated driving, setting out obligations on relevant entities and users of automated vehicles, providing flexible compliance and enforcement options, and outlining any further work that needs to be done to change policy into legislation.
Transport ministers have already agreed to a uniform approach across states and territories to ensure there is always a legal entity in charge of driving when an automated system is active.
The NTC has chosen 2020 as the date for the new legislation to be in place, as it anticipates the commercial rollout of automated vehicles in Australia to occur around that time.
Currently, Australian transport law assumes there is a human driver and does not have any legislation surrounding a situation in which an automated driving system is in control of the vehicle.
The NTC argues that Australians cannot gain the benefits of autonomous vehicles unless the relevant legislative barriers are removed, however it stresses that the intent of Australian road laws must be maintained.
Consultation with government and industry bodies occurred since 2017, with a discussion paper on changing driving laws to suit the use of automated vehicles initiating the dialogue.
Mr Retter said the time has come to change the local laws around automated vehicles.
“With automated vehicles, there will be times when an ‘automated driving system’, rather than a human, will be in control of the vehicle. We need a nationally consistent law to know who is in control of a motor vehicle at any point in time,” he said.
“Without a change to existing laws or new law, there would be no-one to hold responsible for compliance with our road rules when an automated driving system is in control of a vehicle.”
Road agencies and transport departments will also be consulted to develop detailed policy recommendations and analysis needed to bring the new laws into effect by 2020.
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