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  • ITS news
  • NTC Consultation on In-Service Safety for Automated Vehicles

26 August 2019

NTC Consultation on In-Service Safety for Automated Vehicles

ITS Australia

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Background

In July 2019, the National Transport Commission (NTC) published a consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) seeking feedback on the role and regulation of different parties involved in the safe operation of automated vehicles on Australian roads (‘in-service’). It considered safety duties that should apply to these parties,
and the institutional and regulatory arrangements to support them. In response, ITS Australia submitted the following.

Submission

ITS Australia sincerely appreciates the opportunity the National Transport Commission has provided to make a submission on this important topic. Following the NTC 2018 consultation on safety assurance for automated vehicles we value the continuation of this necessary work to determine best approaches to ensuring in-service safety for automated vehicles in Australia.

With more than 1,200 people dying and over 30,000 people being seriously injured each year on Australia’s roads, the only long-term goal we can have is for zero fatal and serious injuries. To that end, we believe C-ITS and automated vehicle technology is one of the key safety initiatives to achieving that ambitious goal.

ITS Australia was supportive of the recent regulatory impact statement on safety assurance for automated driving systems. A system based on mandatory self-certification was a significant step in preparing Australia for the commercial deployment of automated vehicles. This offers the Australian public and manufacturers clarity, certainty and consistency, and ensures Australia is able to align with developments in the international regulatory landscape.

While the entry of automated vehicles into Australia is a crucial point at which to test and determine their suitability and safety for our roads, the safety assurances of their operation for the life-cycle of the vehicles is also of key importance.

We note that following the Safety Assurances RIS, a determination was made that the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development will make the approval decisions to certify automated vehicles at first supply.

Currently the states and territories are in-service regulators for conventional light vehicles and while recognising that there are jurisdictional differences across Australia, particularly with regards to those states and territories with large remote rural regions, a comprehensive national approach that covers both the point of entry and in service regulation of automated vehicles is needed.

There are likely to be important aspects of point of entry regulation that are related to the in-service regulation and vice versa, requiring an overhaul of the current dual federally managed and state managed regime. We understand that the two-stage approach being progressed is to ensure expediency in establishing a regime. Given the likely timeframes before level 3 and 4 vehicles will be commercially available in the Australian market we would encourage continued consideration and reflection on how a truly national approach can evolve.

ITS Australia is concerned that the absence of a coordinated, national approach, would mean the in-service safety regulation of automated vehicles would progress in an inconsistent manner across the States. Inconsistent regulation could undermine public confidence in the deployment of automated vehicle technology in Australia, and adversely affect the potential safety benefits promised by these vehicles. The example outlined, with Audi citing inconsistent state regulations in the US for deciding not to introduce its automated ‘Level 3 Traffic Jam Pilot’ in its A8 vehicle, demonstrates the negative consequences of not adopting a national approach.

In reviewing the potential approaches to enable a harmonised national approach to regulating the deployment of automated vehicles, we commend the State and Federal Ministers for agreeing to a mandatory self-certification approach to safety. Key to this agreement, to provide assurance to the community and government, is a clear demonstration that in developing automated driving technologies, companies are managing safety risks appropriately.

It is critical that Governments establish very clear regulations which are performance based, to ensure that the deployment of CAV’s is guided to improve the safety and quality of life of the community. Governments also need to provide regulatory oversight to give the public confidence in testing and deployment as well as support collaboration across industry and the community.

For your consideration we have also attached the ITS Australia Statement on Connected and Automated Vehicles. As a peak body that represents national and international organisations, we strongly support an approach that works towards harmonisation and cross-jurisdictional considerations and we are keen to be involved in these ongoing discussions.

Conclusion

ITS Australia commends the National Transport Commission in continuing the important work of better understanding the regulatory impact of these technologies and we appreciate the consultation programs being undertaken. The safety of our citizens is paramount and driver assistance technologies are clearly saving lives on our roads now. Emerging and future technologies will in our view provide enhanced in-vehicle safety, however the deployment of these technologies needs government consideration and oversight. Industry is keen to work with government to best deliver these life-saving technologies, and ITS Australia is well placed to facilitate these discussions.

This work is crucial in planning for the future of transport and producing the policy and regulatory frameworks in which they operate. Importantly, this needs to be carried out in consultation with the industry and the community to build understanding and consensus on these exciting opportunities.

As a peak body that represents national and international ITS organisations, we strongly support an approach that works towards harmonisation and cross-jurisdictional considerations.

Read more of ITS Australia's Statements & Submissions

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