Wednesday, 30 May 2018 02:14

Australia to have new driving laws for automated vehicles by 2020

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Australia’s transport ministers have agreed to co-operate to pave the way for the drafting of new national driving laws for automated vehicles.

The joint co-ordinated approach by the states and territories will see a new national law due to be in place by 2020 through the development of purpose-built legislation to allow an automated driving system.

National Transport Commission chief executive Paul Retter said a new law would bring certainty to manufacturers and operators looking to bring more automated vehicle technology to Australia.

“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,” Retter said.

“Without a change to existing laws or a 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.”

Retter said the NTC believed a uniform national approach would help automated vehicle manufacturers and the public understand the legal framework they are operating in and accelerate the introduction of automated vehicles in Australia.

Transport ministers agreed at a recent meeting to a uniform approach across all states and territories to ensure there is always a legal entity in charge of driving when an automated driving system is engaged.

The expected date of 2020 for the introduction of driving laws would be in time for the anticipated commercial rollout of automated vehicles in Australia.

Retter said changing driving laws to support automated vehicles are set out in the NTC policy paper, and the Commission had proposed the introduction of a uniform law to:

  • Allow an automated driving system (rather than a human) to perform the dynamic driving task when it is engaged;
  • Ensure that there is always a legal entity responsible for driving;
  • Set out any obligations on relevant entities, including the ADS entity, and users of automated vehicles; and
  • Provide flexible compliance and enforcement options.

The proposed introduction of new laws follows the NTC’s consultation with government and industry in 2017/18 with a discussion paper on changing driving laws to support automated vehicles.

Retter says that following on from the ministers’ approval, the NTC would work closely with road agencies and transport departments to develop the detailed policy recommendations and legislative analysis necessary to establish the new purpose-built national law by 2020.

“This is a considerable change to national road transport laws, to support the significant changes we see coming in transport technology,” he said.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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