Insights Law Commission publishes advice to Government on how to regulate remote driving on UK roads


The Law Commission explains that remote driving technology, which enables a person to drive a vehicle from a remote location, has seen rapid advancements in recent years, and is already used in controlled environments such as warehouses and farms.

The Law Commission’s published advice to Government, the culmination of a review commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), calls for both short-term changes to the law to respond to emerging safety concerns, as well as a new regulatory regime to govern remote driving on roads in the longer term.

The new paper considers remote driving where the driver does not have direct line of sight of the vehicle and may be in an operations centre many miles away. This could involve the driver using several screens and a control system to direct a vehicle on the road.

The Commission says that remote driving technology has several potential applications, including delivering rental cars to customers’ doors. The technology may also be used in trials of self-driving vehicles. Whereas most UK trials of self-driving vehicles have an in-vehicle “safety driver”, there is increasing interest in using remote driving technology to enable the safety driver to be located outside the vehicle.

Safety challenges considered in the review include establishing reliable connectivity, driver situational awareness, a possible sense of “detachment” from the physical world, and cybersecurity, such as the threat of a terrorist seizing control of a vehicle.

The Commission concludes in its advice that remote driving on roads and public places should only be allowed if companies obtain special permissions.

The Commission’s advice to Government also considers who may be liable in the event of an accident with remotely driven vehicles, concluding that all victims should be protected by automatic compensation from insurers. While individual remote drivers would be responsible for their driving in the same way as in-vehicle drivers, they would not be liable for any faults beyond their control, such as those due to connectivity problems.

The advice set out in the paper is largely modelled on the Commission’s 2022 recommendations on autonomous vehicles, which the Government has used as part of its plans to roll out self-driving cars by 2025. To read the Commission’s press release in full and for a link to further information, click here.