The purpose of this paper is to outline legislative reform options to clarify how current driver and driving laws apply to automated vehicles, and to establish legal obligations for automated driving system entities (ADSEs). We are seeking feedback on whether current laws should be amended in order to develop recommendations for transport ministers to consider at their May 2018 Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting.
In November 2016 the Transport and Infrastructure Council directed the National Transport Commission (NTC) to develop legislative reform options to clarify the application of current driver and driving laws to automated vehicles, and to establish legal obligations for ADSEs.
The Australian community cannot gain the benefits of automated vehicles, including safety, productivity, environmental, and mobility benefits, unless legislative barriers in transport legislation to the operation of automated vehicles are removed. But these legislative barriers should not be removed without ensuring that the intent of the laws—to ensure the safe operation of vehicles on Australian roads—is maintained.
Vehicles that do not require human input for part or all of a trip are already being trialled on Australian roads and are likely to become commercially available from around 2020. Our aim is to ensure relevant driver laws apply to automated vehicles when the automated driving system (ADS), rather than a human driver, is operating the vehicle and that there is a legal entity that can be held responsible for the operation of the ADS.
Any amendments to legislation required to achieve this will need to be in place in time for the commercial deployment of vehicles with high or full automation functions. These amendments should also be implemented in parallel with the reforms to establish a safety assurance system, the purpose of which is to ensure automated vehicles are safe to use on our roads.