New driving law changes to impact all Britons with 'landmark' rules being introduced

Cars on motorway

The new laws were first introduced in the King's Speech

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 09/11/2023

- 08:55

The new law changes could create 38,000 new jobs

New driving laws have been introduced to improve the development of self-driving vehicles, putting safety at the heart of an industry that could become worth £42billion.

Parliament rolled out new laws yesterday with the aim of launching self-driving vehicle technology and to position the UK as world-leaders.

The Automated Vehicles (AV) Bill was first announced in the King’s Speech earlier this week with the Government promising to deliver “one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks” anywhere in the world.

The safety framework will ensure clear liability for the user and set a legal benchmark for drivers, as well as a regulatory scheme to monitor the safety of the vehicles.

WATCH NOW: The King's Speech in full

In policy documents accompanying the King’s Speech, Government forecasts showed that the autonomous vehicle sector could bring in £42billion for the UK and create 38,000 new skilled jobs by 2035.

Self-driving vehicles could also help reduce deaths and injuries from drink driving, speeding and driver tiredness, with 88 per cent of road collisions as a result of human error.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said Britain would lead the world when it comes to self-driving vehicle technology.

He said: “Our new Bill ensures safety is at the heart of our plans to see self-driving vehicles on our roads, making the UK a great place to develop this technology.

“We have the opportunity to put the UK at the forefront of a fast-growing, multi-billion-pound industry by providing the clarity and certainty for business to develop and invest in this exciting technology.”

The new AV Bill will also help boost connectivity between rural communities and help those who cannot drive.

All self-driving vehicles will be required to undergo “robust safety testing” before they are allowed on the road, with manufacturers having ongoing obligations to keep the vehicles safe.

The Government has unveiled £66million of investment for the Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility fund which is supporting 20 projects and nearly 50 organisations to develop self-driving services.

Jesse Norman, Transport Minister, praised the introduction of such a law, saying it would make lives easier for all Britons.

The MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire added: “Today marks a landmark occasion as we usher in the future of transport, aiming at safer, greener and more efficient travel for all.”

The Bill will also prohibit misleading market practices with ambiguous terminology about what is actually considered a self-driving vehicle.

Regulations will set out specific terminology and symbols which will be reserved for marketing authorised self-driving vehicles.

Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of Wayve, said: “Today’s announcement that the Government will bring forward legislation for self-driving signals to the global self-driving industry that the UK government is committed to fostering innovation for the future of transport.

“By setting out a clear path to commercialisation, new primary legislation for self-driving vehicles gives us the confidence to continue investing in research and development and growing our talent base here in the UK.


Mark Harper in a self-driving vehicle

Transport Secretary Mark Harper in a self-driving vehicle


“We look forward to continuing to work with the government to cement the UK’s role as a global centre of excellence for self-driving technology that will make our roads safer and unlock new growth."

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