Motoring Law Update – A new section for self-driving vehicles has been added to the Highway Code

News Posted: July 18, 2022

A new section for self-driving vehicles has been added to the Highway Code

From 1st July new rules on the use of self-driving vehicles in Great Britain have come into force. The changes are included in a new section in The Highway Code.

Currently only vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems are available in the UK. No vehicles in Great Britain have been classed as self-driving yet but they could start to be as soon as next year.

What is a self-driving vehicle?

These are those listed as automated vehicles by the Secretary of State for Transport under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.

These vehicles are capable of safely driving themselves when the self-driving function is correctly turned on and the driver follows the manufacturer’s instructions. While the vehicle is driving itself, you do not need to monitor it.

Self-driving vehicles differ from vehicles that are fitted only with assisted driving features (like cruise control and lane-keeping assistance).

Assisted driving features can do some of the driving, but the driver still needs to be responsible for driving at all times. If you are driving a vehicle using only its assisted driving features, Rule 150 applies.

A self-driving vehicle’s ability to drive itself may be limited to certain situations or parts of a journey. Things like the type of road, time of day, weather, location and speed may affect this. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions about when and how to use the self-driving function safely.

While a self-driving vehicle is driving itself in a valid situation, you are not responsible for how it drives. You may turn your attention away from the road and you may also view content through the vehicle’s built-in infotainment apparatus, if available.

What about general road traffic laws?

You must still follow all relevant laws

  • You MUST be fit to drive (for example, you must be within the drink-drive legal limits and not be under the influence of drugs). See Rules 90 to 96.
  • The vehicle MUST be road legal (for example, it must have an MOT certificate, if applicable, and it must be taxed and insured). The vehicle must be roadworthy (see Rules 89 and 97; and Annexes 3 and 6). You will also still be responsible for your passengers and anything else you are carrying (see Rules 98 to 102).
  • You MUST NOT do anything illegal – like using a handheld mobile phone, or similar hand-held device. There are exceptions to this, which are set out in Rule 149.

If a self-driving vehicle needs to hand control back to the driver, it will give you enough warning to do this safely. You MUST always be able and ready to take control, and do it when the vehicle prompts you. For example, you should stay in the driving seat and stay awake. When you have taken back control or turned off the self-driving function, you are responsible for all aspects of driving.

How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team on 01743 or email.

Image credit: “Self Driving Car” by pterjan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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