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UK Sees Self-Driving Cars As A Means To Improve Road Safety

Key Takeaways

  • The UK passed the Autonomous Vehicles Act, allowing self-driving cars by 2026.
  • The legislation aims to improve road safety by reducing human error that causes collisions.
  • Manufacturers are responsible for crashes when self-driving cars are at fault.

The UK has recently passed the Autonomous Vehicles Act as a law, allowing self-driving cars to hit public roads by 2026. While the legislation is a tad too late compared to the US, the government says allowing autonomous vehicles is a way to improve road safety by reducing human error. Data shows that 88% of road collisions are caused by human error – at least in the UK.

The new law also mandates self-driving vehicles to have safety standards equivalent to those of competent human drivers. These autonomous vehicles will also undergo stringent safety checks prior to being permitted on the roads. When implemented, the UK aims to see a significant decrease in deaths and injuries caused by DUI, speeding, fatigue, and inattention.


Manufacturers’ Responsibility

Apart from the definite timeline, the Autonomous Vehicles Act also defined manufacturers who will be at fault when self-driving cars crash, as backed by King Charles III. This, of course, is only on the condition that the one at fault is a true self-driving vehicle, which means it can drive itself safely while following all the road traffic rules without needing a human.

Self-driving cars are already being tested on British roads, so this development is a huge move for British tech companies like Wayve, which employs a fleet of autonomous vehicles including a Ford Mustang Mach-E.

“I am delighted that the Automated Vehicles Bill has received Royal Assent. This is a critical milestone for the UK’s deployment of self-driving technology and cements the UK as a global leader in regulating this sector. We are grateful to the government and all who have engaged with us in the conversation about the importance of this legislation,” said Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of Wayve.

Wayve Self Driving Car


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A Different Story In America

In the US, several but not all states have already allowed deployment of self-driving vehicles on the road, according to the latest data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Some only allow testing, while others limit deployment to commercial vehicles only.

However, the autonomous driving industry is currently under fire, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of Waymo robotaxis underway due to several instances of crashes and infraction of traffic laws. Despite that, more companies are vying to put their own self-driving cars on the road, including Tesla, which is scheduled to introduce its robotaxi in a few months.

Wayve Autonomous Vehicles Fleet On Road

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