Self-driving vehicles set to be on roads by 2026

Published on behalf of Road Safety GB

Self-driving vehicles could be on British roads by 2026, after the Government’s Automated Vehicles (AV) Act became law.

First announced during the King’s Speech in November 2023, the new law is designed to help enable the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles, while unlocking the potential of an industry estimated to be worth up to £42 billion by 2035.

The law will require self-driving vehicles to achieve a level of safety at least as high as ‘careful and competent’ human drivers, as well as meeting rigorous safety checks before being allowed onto roads. 

The Government says this could lead to the number of deaths and injuries from drink driving, speeding, tiredness and inattention being ‘drastically reduced’.  

The act delivers a ‘comprehensive’ legal framework, setting out who is liable for AVs meaning that drivers can be assured that, while their vehicle is in self-driving mode, they will not be held responsible for how the vehicle drives. 

For the first time, corporations such as insurance providers, software developers and automotive manufacturers can assume this responsibility. 

Mark Harper, transport secretary, said: “Britain stands at the threshold of an automotive revolution and this new law is a milestone moment for our self-driving industry, which has the potential to change the way we travel forever.   

“While this doesn’t take away people’s ability to choose to drive themselves, our landmark legislation means self-driving vehicles can be rolled out on British roads as soon as 2026, in a real boost to both safety and our economy.”


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