The Automated And Electric Vehicles Act (AEV) received royal assent on 19 July 2018. As outlined in our previous blog post on the AEV Bill, the Act paves the way for driverless cars to appear on UK roads by extending compulsory motor insurance to autonomous vehicles. Rather than setting out general characteristics of autonomous vehicles, the Act mandates the creation of a list of all motor vehicles that might be used on roads or other public places in Great Britain and that are designed or capable of safely driving themselves. Insurer liability will be excluded under the Act if the software in an automated vehicle is not updated or if it has been adapted to a standard outside of the policy limits.
The Bill was not amended significantly as it passed through the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The only substantial amendment was the introduction of what is now section 7 of the Act. This was added in at the report stage in the House of Lords and requires the Secretary of State to prepare a report assessing the impact and effectiveness of the list of autonomous vehicles to be compiled under the Act. Proposing the new clause, Baroness Sugg declared that the insurance industry supported the intended reporting approach to make sure the list and the Act itself function correctly and delivers an effective framework for insuring automated vehicles. The report should be published no later than two years after the list of motor vehicles in section 1 is published; that date is still to be confirmed.
Commenting on the passing of the Bill, Roads Minister Jesse Norman said, “The increasing automation of our cars is transforming the way we drive, and the Government is steadily updating our laws in order to prepare for the future. This Act will ensure that the UK’s infrastructure and insurance system is ready for the biggest transport revolution in a century.”
The Government’s commitment to this Act is highlighted by the fact that they have managed to get it through parliament in nine months, slightly quicker than the average time it takes to pass a Bill, but also particularly significant given that Brexit-related legislation has been monopolising a large part of the Government’s resources.
The Government have been keen to highlight this is just the beginning of their “Road to Zero strategy” which they are describing as the “biggest technology advancement to hit UK roads since the invention of the combustion engine”. Their aim is to reassure motor vehicle manufacturers that the UK is still open for business and an ideal place to develop autonomous vehicle technology.
The author would like to thank Aimee Denholm, Knowledge Assistant, for her assistance in preparing this article.
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Worldwide regulation of autonomous vehicles
We have recently launched the third volume of our Autonomous Vehicle (AV) White Paper – our most ambitious to date. In this edition, we address the worldwide regulatory landscape facing the autonomous vehicle market. It pulls from Norton Rose Fulbright’s global footprint in this field in 22 different countries – Australia, Germany, China, Singapore, and the United States just to name a few – and summarizes the key aspects of each country’s regulatory scheme concerning AVs.