France is the first European country to amend its road and highway regulations to allow the operation of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads. The Highway Code and the Transport Code are being revised, which could lead to the approval of the first self-driving cars on public roads from September 2022.
The first passenger cars with fully automated driving systems should arrive on the market soon. National transport and traffic laws will have to adapt to the new requirements, to ensure a safe and efficient circulation of automated vehicles. France is leading the way, with the implementation of a complete system dedicated to automated vehicles on French public roads.
The decree follows the publication in May 2018 of France’s national strategy for the development of automated vehicles, which puts technical innovation and regulation at the fore.
The involvement of the entire French ecosystem (State, local authorities, industrialists and transport players) led to the publication of a decree amending the Highway Code and the Transport Code for automated vehicles. Certified vehicles with autonomous driving technology (such as lane keeping assist) and automated transport systems operating on pre-set routes could be on public roads from September 2022.
What is the criminal liability in the event of an accident?
The order, issued on July 1, 2021, updates the criminal liability regime, allowing drivers to assign liability as long as the automated driving system operates in accordance with its terms and conditions. The decree also defines the rules of interaction between the driver, the autonomous driving system and emergency driving, as well as the level of caution expected from the driver. vis-à-vis its environment when the autonomous system is activated.
The publication of this decree is a major step for the French transport and innovation system. Safety demonstrations will be carried out by organizations and authorized service providers to verify the response of the system when driving on planned routes.