Autonomous cars: driving without hands will be authorized from September 1 in France

As of September 1, 2022, level 3 autonomous driving will be authorized in France. In this article, we come under what conditions drivers will be able to take advantage of it, and the legal implications of using this technology.

autonomous driving france
Credits: Tesla

We talked about it in our columns in July 2022. Since July 14, 2022, level 3 autonomous driving has been authorized within the countries of the European Union. On this date, Article 34-Bis of the Vienna Convention, which provides for the circulation of vehicles within the Member States, was amended to authorize the use of this technology.

However, it was specified that each country will have to legislate to confirm the measure on its national roads. However and concerning France, autonomous driving will be authorized from September 1, 2022. Note that the information is not new, since a decree adopted in July 2021 was voted to precisely prepare for the arrival of level 3 autonomous driving in France.

For the occasion, modifications have also been made to the Highway Code and the Transport Code. In this article, we will see what level 3 autonomous driving authorization means in France.

The implications of hands-free driving in France

First of all, it should be remembered that only level 2 autonomous driving was authorized in France until then. This step consists of two main features: adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. Here, drivers are not allowed to take their hands off the wheel, as the technology does not allow the car to be steered without a driver.

Gold, level 3 offers partial autonomy since the user is able to let go of the steering wheel. This is the system that handles the majority of driving-related tasks. However, the driver is invited to remain vigilant, to regain control in the event of a problem.

Also read: Autonomous cars – the black box becomes mandatory

A very specific framework for using hands-free driving

Of course, French legislators have imposed very specific conditions to have the right to activate level 3 autonomous driving. Here they are in detail:

  • the vehicle must be on a road prohibited to pedestrians and cyclists, equipped with a central separator
  • the maximum speed must not exceed 60 km/h
  • and as said above, the driver must be able to regain control at any time

In other words, the use of level 3 autonomous driving is intended above all for drivers caught in motorway and suburban traffic jams. Another important point, note that the driver will not be held responsible in the event of an accident with hands-free driving activated. Indeed and in the eyes of French legislation, it is the builder who will be held criminally liable.

Regarding the maximum speed, it should be noted that things could change shortly. Because, France plans to adopt new United Nations regulations soon. It will allow cars with level 3 autonomous driving to drive at the maximum speed of 130 km/h instead of 60. However, they will have to be able to overtake vehicles automatically.

autonomous driving france
Credits: Mercedes EQS

Which cars are affected?

As much to say it right away, cars compatible with level 3 autonomous driving are not jostling at the gate in Europe, for the moment in any case. At present, only two models can claim it: Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Mercedes-Benz EQS. And again, these luxury sedans are not yet approved to use this technology on French roads.

In other words, as of September 1, 2022, no car is approved for level 3 autonomous driving in France. However, things could quickly change in the coming weeks/months. On paper, Teslas are compatible with this technology, with the fully autonomous driving functionality (FSD or Full Self Driving) being tested for several months in the USA.

However, the American manufacturer has not yet decided to approve its vehicles to use FSD and Autopilot on French roads. This reluctance is not surprising. With the criminal liability of the manufacturer engaged in the event of an accident, the latter must think twice.

Source : The echoes

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