Federal Council votes to amend German Road Traffic Act
Today the German Federal Council approved amendments to the German Road Traffic Act, which create the regulatory framework for automated driving.
Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), commented, “The German automotive industry welcomes the draft bill, because it represents a major step toward the use of highly automated vehicles on German roads. Automated driving will make road traffic safer, more efficient and more convenient.” For many years now the German automotive manufacturers and suppliers have been investing considerable sums in the research and development of systems for automated driving. Over the coming three to four years another 16 to 18 billion euros will flow into digitization technologies.
The German automotive industry supports the German Government’s strategy of making Germany the leading market for connected and automated driving. The new regulations in the German Road Traffic Act pertaining to automated driving will give customers and vehicle makers legal certainty. The legal changes rightly define demanding requirements for vehicle technology, but also for the information-related obligations of auto makers and customers.
For example, automated systems may be used by customers only if these systems are applied by the driver in the proper manner. The vehicle user may carry out other activities, but must be ready to take over control of the vehicle at any time during the automated journey and must understand the conditions for the proper use of the automated system. Only when autonomous driving is possible will driverless travel be permitted. In autonomous vehicles all the occupants will be passengers.
In the first step, vehicle technology will enable automated driving on freeways and driverless vehicle operation in defined parking areas. In the future the technology will be applied in more areas as it continues to develop.
The draft bill will therefore also create a legal basis for regulations on driverless parking. It is envisaged that while an automated system is being used, a data storage device in the vehicle will record how the system is functioning. This will offer legal security – particularly from the consumer’s viewpoint – providing evidence of malfunctions in cases of doubt.
In addition to the amendments to the Road Traffic Act, revision of the technical regulations for approval of automated driving functions still has to be completed. This is needed to create the foundation for offering customers automated vehicles on a wider scale.