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Prime Mover Magazine

NTC says future legislation has to balance safety and innovation

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released a new work program designed to enable next-generation mobility services through “more responsive regulation”.

According to the NTC, such services included automated vehicles, ride-sharing and other ‘on demand’ transport services facilitated by increased access to digital information.

“Our new work program includes a number of new projects aimed at ensuring Australia’s transport laws can support the safe commercial deployment of more innovative transport solutions, such as automated vehicles,” said NTC CEO, Paul Retter.

“These changes are likely to transform Australia’s transport sector over the next two decades.”

The program is a response to a request from Australia’s transport ministers to “identify and remove regulatory barriers that may prevent or delay the deployment of more innovative transport products and services” in the future, Retter added.

Only recently, the NTC also released a strategic analysis report called Land Transport Regulation 2040, which identified a number of plausible future scenarios Australia could face over the course of the next two decades.

“We have been meeting with stakeholders across Australia to find out how we could or should regulate transport in the medium and longer term future,” Retter said.

“For example, Australia could choose to adopt less prescriptive road transport laws, like those that apply to national rail safety to further encourage innovation in our road transport sector.

“For sensible reasons Australia’s road transport laws were drafted in a prescriptive way.

“But we need to think about whether this is the right approach for the future. Prescriptive laws can take time to update as every new transport product and every new technology is rolled out. Given the likelihood of significant changes in technology, market structures and consumer demand for transport services over the next two decades, we need to make our road transport laws more resilient and more responsive.”

The NTC’s work program contains two further proposals to help deal with this key finding – one to look at ways to remove barriers in our road rules and vehicle standards rules to more innovative vehicles, and one to develop more technology-neutral road rules for driver distraction.

“We have a track record of partnering with states and territories, local governments and the Australian Government to design nationally consistent reforms to our laws. In doing so we need to balance managing safety risk with encouraging innovation.”

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