The National Transport Commission (NTC) has called for policy makers, technology experts, vehicle developers and the rest of the Australian community to help shape appropriate laws to maximise the benefits of automated vehicles.

The inter-governmental agency has released an issues paper and called for submissions from the public on how to develop the best laws and regulations for the emerging technology.

Chief Executive of the NTC, Paul Retter, said Australia’s current laws and regulations weren’t written with autonomous vehicles in mind, but now that increasingly automated vehicles were being developed it was time to look closely at what changes may be needed.

“Automated vehicles will be safer, more productive and give senior Australians and those with a disability more independence in their lives. However the benefits offered by these vehicles will only be realised if we get Australia’s laws and regulations right,” he said.

“While we have already identified a number of potential issues, we are asking anyone with an interest in the future of transport to have their say. This feedback will help to make sure we address all the issues associated with automated vehicles.

“For example, many road safety laws assume that there will always be a human driver, but how do automated vehicles comply with a legal requirement to hold a driver’s licence, comply with authorised officers or give assistance if a person is injured? The NTC will need to look at fundamental concepts including defining the driver, what is meant by ‘control of the vehicle’ and consider how automated vehicles should interact with other road users.”

Mr Retter said the NTC would work to ensure future regulations promote innovation and competition, and continue to remain consistent with international standards and conventions whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so.

He said many different types of automated vehicles would be developed in the future and therefore the NTC will consider a flexible and performance-based regulatory approach that helps to encourage new transport technology.

Submissions to the issues paper are due by Tuesday, 8 March 2016. These submissions will help the NTC develop a discussion paper with detailed options analysis to be published in mid-2016.

More information is available at http://www.ntc.gov.au/current-projects/preparing-for-more-automated-road-and-rail-vehicles/


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