Autonomous Vehicles: Regulatory Issues and Civil Liability by Focusing on some Pioneering Laws

Dr. Hafez Jafar Ibrahim
Assistant Professor of Civil Law – College of Law – Sultan Qaboos University – Oman


The main goal of this paper is to draw attention to the most important legal challenges facing self-driving vehicles in the context of the pioneering laws. This has been achieved through two key elements: the first relates to the regulation of these vehicles and the second to civil liability resulting from their damage.
On the ground, we have investigated the different levels of driving automatization and the prospective effects of these new technologies when launching them into our lives; based on the comparative analytical descriptive approach, we have concluded that there is a significant shortcoming between the technology of autonomous driving at the fifth level and the current laws.
Thus, the current legal framework needs to be modified (not radically) and may need to introduce new rules. It remains unclear how self-driving technologies will be able to deal with unforeseen emergencies including their ethical aspects. This is because most traffic accidents are caused by human error. Hence, it is expected that the emergence of technology will reduce accidents.
However, the results currently available were not able to confirm these expectations once and for all. Self-driving techniques are becoming increasingly complicated. However, they are technically accessible by others which threatens security. The biggest challenge for autonomous vehicles is to exclude the civil liability of the driver / owner and replace it with product liability regime.
Based on the foregoing, the paper recommends the following: establishing rules requiring vehicle manufacturers and automated drive systems operators to exchange records and information with accident investigators; excluding or limiting the liability of manufacturers and suppliers of operating programs and insurance companies in case of accidents resulting from unauthorized software alterations or failure to update software to the self-driving programs and finally overcoming the shortcomings of tort liability system and addressing the ethical aspects of introducing self-driving vehicles.

Keywords: Trial operation, electronic simulation system, distribution of liability, German law, risk assumption.

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