Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018

The government are implementing the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 to achieve carbon targets set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. Decarbonising transport is a key aspect of this policy. It has been announced by government that nearly all cars and vans should be zero emission vehicles by 2050, and the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans will end by 2040.

The boost for electric and driverless cars boosts the green transport revolution. This change will require significant altercation, increasing electric vehicles and the corresponding charging infrastructure. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act will mean more electric cars and charge points, and insurance covering driverless cars.

Transport Minister

John Hayes stated:

We want the UK to be a leading hub for modern transport technology, which is why we are introducing the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill in Parliament and investing more than £1.2 billion in the industry.

This bill will aid the construction of greater infrastructure to support the growing demand for automated and electric vehicles as we embrace technology and move into the future.

Charge points for electric vehicles will be required at all UK motorway services and large petrol stations. Charging points will be compulsory, enabling drivers of automated cars to be insured on all UK roads.

Automated and electric vehicles will greatly improve air quality, cut congestion and boost road safety.

Air pollution

Research conducted in China, but relevant across the world in any polluted area; found that living in highly polluted areas for long periods of time affects mental cognitive abilities.

The study includes researchers from Beijing Peking University and US Yale University, and evaluates that air pollution has negative impacts on mental ability, reducing intelligence.

In July 2017, government published a new UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations. The 2017 plan saw local authorities draw up local plans to improve air quality, with clean air zones encouraging cleanest vehicles.

Increasing the amount of ultra-low emission electric vehicles on the road will greatly reduce current engine vehicle emissions in densely polluted areas. According to statics from the World Health Organisation, 91% of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits.

Can automated vehicles reduce road traffic accidents in UK?

In the UK in 2016, 85.9% of collisions causing injury are caused by human error. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report 94% of crashes due to human error. The World Health Organisation report that 1.25 million die each year as a result of traffic accidents.

According to UK government statistics, an autonomous car fleet could reduce delays by 40% on the strategic road network and 30% in urban areas.

Who will be liable when autonomous technologies e.g. self-driving cars cause accidents?

Part 1 of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act extends motor vehicle insurance to cover the use of automated vehicles in automated mode. This is compulsory. This is so victims of an accident and the driver cause by a fault in the automated vehicle will be covered by compulsory insurance.

With this, UK government research estimates that the market will be worth £50 billion to the UK economy by 2035. Changing driving conditions are being met with changing government legislation.

Ison Harrison’s Legal View

Tracey Stringer, Chartered Legal Executive comments:

Interesting times lay ahead. The government has agreed for a substantial amount of money to be put in a fund to enable trials to be carried out with lorries being tested with driverless technology.

My worry will be can you trust the technology? Systems can be hacked, who bears the blame if something were to go wrong, was it down to the software, manufacturer, who will be held accountable? The vehicles will be fitted with so much technology that will be supplied by so many different companies!

How will this data be obtained, who will own the data and who will be allowed access to the information, where will all the information be kept and how long for!  Would you need an expert to read the data and provide a report?

All I can see and perhaps I am being cynical, is a whole plethora of problems and issues. This can only lead in my opinion to a whole new world of satellite  litigation with many various parties being brought into proceedings, who is to pay for all this and what happens if a party is not found to be liable, who pays the costs if one or more party has the claim discontinued against them.

I think that new technology is here to stay and whilst it can work in some cases, I am not sure how it can replace the actions of a human. Whilst driving a potentially lethal weapon, humans have a thought process; when driving we are conscious of surrounding areas and alert to who and what is around us, making adjustments constantly whilst driving, making split second judgement calls. I am not sure how quickly and how effectively these programmed cars will be able to react when presented with an agony of the moment situation.

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