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The deployment of automated vehicle technologies by supporting and possibly replacing the driver in the performance of the driving task will significantly change the division of responsibilities between road users and those involved in the operation of the vehicle. In the near future a third level (SAE3[1][2]) automated driving system[3] might change the driver’s responsibilities from driving to active observation.

While the state of California of the United States (USA) is already testing automated vehicles Waymo without a driver’s presence on city streets, rural roads and highways with a speed limit of 105 km/h[4][5], Latvia needs to take a series of steps to allow automated vehicle participation in traffic to become a reality.

Regulatory enactments do not provide for autonomous car operation

The current legal framework for road traffic and the operation of vehicles in Latvia has been developed, taking into account the traditional understanding of the role of the vehicle and its driver and, above all, defining the duties and responsibilities of the driver.

Expert of law firm Triniti Arina Stivriņa has conducted a study of the legal framework, concluding that the operation of currently fully automated vehicles without a driver on Latvian roads does not comply with binding international and national regulatory enactments.

The current legal framework does not prescribe a division of responsibilities between road users and those involved in the operation of the vehicle corresponding to the operation of automated vehicles and does not provide for different categories of driving licence or different procedures for obtaining a driving licence for the driving of automated vehicles.

Improving the legal framework: Robotics Law and Trustee Model

Further research is needed on changes to the concept of a vehicle in the Road Traffic Act, as the need for the establishment of the legal status of various automated self-driving equipment, as shipment and cargo delivery robots, road complex and lawn cleaning robots is expected in the near future, and the current legal uncertainty, without dealing with responsibilities and responsibilities, does not contribute to the development of the practical application of technology.

Triniti experts, as part of the study, developed conceptual proposals for changes needed to operate automated vehicles. The proposals include a further study of the person implementing the development of a new general Robotics Law and the actual control of technology, the inclusion of the concept of an automated vehicle in the Road Traffic Law, as well as changes in the training arrangements for drivers, supplementing the training programme with information on the need for enhanced monitoring and alertness, the need to familiarise an adequate automated system, and takeover of management in a crisis.

[1]U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “Automated Vehicles for Safety. The Benefits’. Available: #topic-benefits. Addressed on 5 November 2018.

[2]SAE International. Surface vehicle recommended practice. Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Referred to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles. Available: Addressed on 5 November 2018.

[3]Tesla Inc. Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Cars. Available: Overlooked on 5 November 2018.

[4]Shepardson D., Sage A. Waymo gets first California OK for driverless testing without backup driver. Available: feedType = RSS & feedName = technologyNews. Addressed on 5 November 2018.

[5]Waymo. A Green Light for Waymo’s Driverless Testing in California. Available: 87 ec336d657. Addressed on 5 November 2018.