Government urged to outlaw remote driving of vehicles from overseas

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Remote driving of vehicles from abroad should be banned in the UK, a Government-commissioned review has found.

The Law Commission of England and Wales made the recommendation in its advice to ministers on how to regulate vehicles being controlled by individuals in remote locations.

This technology is already used in controlled environments such as warehouses and farms, but potential future applications include the delivery of rental cars to customers.

It recommended that remote driving in public should only be allowed if companies obtain special permissions.

There is currently no specific UK legal requirement for a driver to be in the vehicle they are controlling.

The review also stated that a remote driver should be responsible for their actions in the same way as someone sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, but there should be no liability for faults beyond their control such as connectivity failures.

Public Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines KC said: “Remote driving is an exciting technology, but before we see remotely operated cars on UK roads we must address safety concerns through strong regulation.

“Our advice concludes that in the immediate term, the Government would be able to address some gaps in the law around remote driving using existing powers, while also providing a path for companies to use the technology lawfully provided that their systems are safe.

“In the longer term, it could set up a full system of remote driving regulation.

“Regulations must respond to other fundamental concerns around security threats and liability in the event of an accident.

“Our advice paper sets out a roadmap for how the Government can address these problems, whilst also encouraging companies to innovate.”

Transport minister Jesse Norman said: “Remote driving is already being successfully used off-road in several industries and has huge potential to provide new services and safety features for road vehicles.

“The Government needs to ensure that safety is at the forefront of the use of any new technology, and the department will carefully consider the Law Commission’s recommendations.”

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