While there are currently no self-driving vehicles listed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for use in the UK, vehicle technology is steadily advancing and it is anticipated that these could be on UK roads in the medium term.
A number of vehicles do exist that include some driver assistance technology such as cruise control and lane assistance which can do some of the driving but which require the driver to remain fully responsible at all times. These features are not the same as a self-driving vehicle, to be considered self-driving it must be safe, in relevant circumstances, for the driver to delegate control of the vehicle to the self-driving function and to no longer be required to monitor the road.
In preparation for this, a new section has been added to the Highway Code explaining how the rules of the road will apply.
The new section of the Highway code explains that while the driver is not responsible for the vehicle while it is self-driving they must still be fit to drive (e.g. not being under the influence of drink or drugs), must be ready and able to take back control when required (e.g. must remain awake and in the driver’s seat) and must not do anything illegal such as using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device.
The new guidance is contained in the introduction to the Highway Code which can be found on the Gov.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/introduction
Further information on self-driving vehicles can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/self-driving-vehicles-listed-for-use-in-great-britain
The Highway Code is regularly updated and it is important to keep up to date with any changes. If your employees drive as part of their work, it is also important that you have robust policies and procedures in place to manage the risk.
Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using email@example.com if you have any questions or would like assistance with developing policies and procedures for managing occupational road risks.