self driving cars on the roadself driving cars on the road


Self-driving cars could be on UK roads within two years as Bill becomes law

  • UK could see self-driving cars on roads by 2026
  • Automated Vehicles Bill received royal assent on Monday
  • ‘Watershed moment’ says SMMT

Time 12:32 pm, May 21, 2024

Britain’s roads could be seeing self-driving cars within two years a Cabinet minister has claimed, as a Bill outlining the legal framework for autonomous vehicles became law.

The Automated Vehicles Bill received royal assent on Monday (May 20), and it applies across the country. It’s the ‘most comprehensive legal framework of its kind worldwide’, said the Department for Transport (DfT).

It means drivers will not be held responsible for the action of a vehicle in self-driving mode, with businesses such as insurers, manufacturers and software developers liable when something goes wrong.

The DfT added that self-driving vehicles must achieve a level of safety at least as high as ‘careful and competent human drivers’.

Trials of autonomous vehicle technology are ongoing across the UK, such as by Wayve in London and Oxa in Oxford.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: ‘Britain stands at the threshold of an automotive revolution, and this new law is a milestone moment for our self-driving industry which has the potential to change the way we travel forever.

‘While this doesn’t take away people’s ability to choose to drive themselves, our landmark legislation means self-driving vehicles can be rolled out on British roads as soon as 2026, in a real boost to both safety and our economy.’

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: ‘This is a watershed moment for UK automotive innovation and road safety in the UK.

‘Self-driving vehicles will revolutionise our society, and this new law will help turn ambition into reality, putting the UK alongside a handful of other global markets that already have their regulatory frameworks in place.

‘The industry will continue its close collaboration with government and other stakeholders to develop the necessary secondary legislation that will enable the safe and responsible commercial roll out of self-driving vehicles and the significant social and economic benefits they will afford the UK.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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