NTC seeks feedback on automated vehicle driving rules

Retter says concepts of control need to be clearly defined for safe deployment of self-driving vehicles

NTC seeks feedback on automated vehicle driving rules
Paul Retter says national guidelines will ensure consistent road rules across the country.


The National Transport Commission (NTC) wants feedback on a proposal for drivers to permit hands off the wheel in certain automated vehicles.

The discussion paper, Clarifying control of automated vehicles, calls for input on how the "concepts of control and proper control" in the Australian Road Rules should apply to automated vehicles.

The feedback will help shape the development of national enforcement guidelines to clarify when the human driver and when the automated driving system is in control at certain levels of driving automation.

The discussion paper explores three key questions:

  • who is in control of an automated vehicle – the human driver or the entity responsible for the automated driving system
  • how should the proper control test apply to the human driver in vehicles at different levels of automation
  • how should the proper control test apply to the automated driving system when it is engaged?

For instance, one of the proposals considers allowing the human driver to supervise automated driving without needing to have a hand on the wheel for certain levels of driving automation.

The transport commission says such a rule would require new indicators related to driver alertness and readiness to intervene in unforseen situations.

NTC chief executive Paul Retter says an agreement on the definition of proper control is a key step in preparing the country for a safe deployment of automated vehicles.

"Our existing road transport laws are based on the principle that the human driver is in control of the vehicle. Vehicles with an automated driving system that can perform parts of the driving task challenge these concepts of control," Retter says.

"We need to arrive at an agreed position early to provide certainty for police and enforcement agencies.

"Agreeing on a nationally-consistent approach is also expected to provide more certainty for consumers, automotive manufacturers and insurers around the question of who may be liable for damages following a crash or incident involving automated vehicles.

"National guidelines will help ensure drivers are treated consistently in different parts of the country."

The national enforcement guidelines are expected to be presented to transport ministers in November.

Submissions are open until 4pm on June 2 via the NTC website.

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