Australian transport ministers have approved two key automated vehicle reforms as part of a roadmap of reform to support commercial deployment.

Chief Executive of the National Transport Commission (NTC), Paul Retter said ministers endorsed new national enforcement guidelines and agreed to progress the development of a safety assurance system at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting on Friday, 10 November.

“Ministers have agreed to a goal of having an end-to-end regulatory system in place by 2020 to support the safe, commercial deployment of automated vehicles at all levels of automation. This is an important milestone towards that goal,” Mr Retter said.

“Australia is one of the first countries to make this bold commitment to 2020. We want to give certainty to manufacturers by ensuring our regulatory system is flexible and responsive to encourage innovation.”

The National Enforcement Guidelines provide guidance to police for applying the road rules to automated vehicles.

“These guidelines provide clarity around who is in control of a vehicle at different levels of automation. They confirm that a human driver is responsible for the driving task when conditional automation is engaged,” Mr Retter said.

“They also determine that having hands on the wheel is no longer an indicator of having proper control when conditional automation is safely engaged.”

Transport ministers have also directed the NTC to develop a safety assurance system for automated road vehicles.

“Ministers agree that government has a role in assuring the safety of automated driving systems, just as governments have a role in assuring driver safety today through driver licensing regimes,” Mr Retter said.

The NTC is working with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to implement a safety assurance system by 2020. The next stage is to develop a COAG Regulation Impact Statement on legislative options in early 2018.

These projects are part of a broader roadmap of reform to support automated vehicles. For more information about the NTC’s projects, see the NTC website.

The NTC is currently consulting on how to change driving laws to support automated vehicles, with submissions closing on 24 November. From January 2018, the NTC will commence public consultation on two further projects relating to government access to automated vehicle data and a review of automated vehicle exemption powers and insurance.

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