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Autonomous vehicles move into UK fast lane following historic King’s Speech

An autonomous vehicles bill has been outlined in the King’s Speech, which the government says will unlock a “transport revolution” and position the UK as a “global leader” in the sector.

Transport Select Committee chair, Iain Stewart MP, welcomed the news saying: “I applaud the government’s promise of bringing forward legislation on self-driving vehicles that will help the UK to realise its place as a world leader in developing these technologies – a view shared with us from a range of voices in the transport sector.” 

With safety as its bedrock, the government is promising to deliver one of the world’s most comprehensive frameworks for autonomous vehicles, thereby creating a £42bn market and 38,000 skilled jobs by 2035. 

The briefing document argues that “Self-driving vehicles will make transport safer, more convenient and more accessible, improving the lives of millions of people. 

“With 88 per cent of accidents currently involving human error, the potential for automated vehicles to reduce costs, injuries and fatalities is enormous. 

“They will empower people across the country to get around more easily, including to school or work which will boost productivity.” 

According to the report, the Department for Transport (DfT) and its agencies will be given new powers to authorise autonomous vehicles and ensure in-use compliance with its ‘rigorous’ safety standards. 

The DfT will also hold companies firmly accountable once their autonomous vehicles are deployed onto the road network. 

If companies do not meet safety requirements, they will face new sanctions and penalties including fines, requirements to take corrective action and suspension of operation. Criminal offences will also apply in serious cases. 

New processes to investigate incidents involving self-driving vehicles will also be introduced to ensure that lessons are fed back into the safety framework.  


Published On: 09/11/2023 13:00:00


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