Code of Practice: automated vehicle trialling

Updated 30 November 2023


The UK government recognises and welcomes the growing appetite to test and trial automated vehicle technologies and services in the UK. New technologies will have a major impact on traditional mobility business models, and the changing landscape of the passenger and freight services markets. The government believes that automated road vehicle technologies and services have the potential to offer benefits of increased safety and accessibility to the travelling public and create new opportunities for UK industry. Therefore, the government wishes to support and facilitate the safe development and introduction of these technologies to the UK’s roads.

Trialling any level of automated vehicle technology is possible on any UK road if carried out in line with UK law. Trialling organisations do not need to obtain permits or pay surety bonds when conducting trials in the UK. As part of complying with the law, they will need to ensure that they have:

  • a driver or operator, in or out of the vehicle, who is ready, able, and willing to resume control of the vehicle

  • a roadworthy vehicle

  • appropriate insurance in place

The Code also notes that those planning tests should speak with the road and enforcement authorities, develop engagement plans, and have data recorders fitted.

The government acknowledges the desire to conduct advanced trials on public roads. Such trials may not readily fit within current UK legislation, so the Department for Transport (DfT) and its motoring agencies will introduce and operate a process to support those looking to safely conduct advanced trials. This process will be available to support the industry when they are ready to do these trials.

Those planning to conduct advanced trials should contact the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) in advance – see the contacts section for more.

Failure to follow the Code may be relevant to liability in any legal proceedings. Similarly, compliance with the expectations set by the Code does not guarantee immunity from liability in such circumstances.

Purpose of the Code

This Code is primarily intended to be used by organisations or individuals planning to trial or pilot automated vehicle technologies and services.

This Code aims to:

  • support and promote the safe trialling and use of automated vehicle technologies and services on public roads or in other public places in the UK and build public confidence in automated vehicle technologies and services

  • support cooperation between trialling organisations and those responsible for the management of traffic, infrastructure, law enforcement, and other areas to support maximum road safety

  • encourage the sharing of information to help uphold and develop the highest standards of safety in the UK and internationally

Information in this Code might also be useful for local authorities, highways authorities, emergency services, licensing authorities and others who are looking for guidance on how to engage with trialling organisations.

This Code seeks to facilitate trialling a wide range of road vehicles, from new types of road vehicles such as smaller automated pods and shuttles, through to more conventional vehicle types such as passenger, goods, and public service vehicles.

This Code has not been developed with a view to the testing and development of driver assistance systems (such as adaptive cruise control) or to trials and pilots carried out on private test tracks or other areas not accessible by the public. Those undertaking such trials are nonetheless encouraged to consider whether the guidelines may be relevant.


This guidance does not seek to prejudge routes to market, or commercial and operating models for automated vehicle technologies and services. The aim is to support flexibility and innovation while providing greater clarity to trialling organisations.

During trials, it is a legal requirement that there is a safety driver or safety operator ready and able to override the vehicle, though not necessarily within the vehicle. Trialling organisations can test any level of technology, with the proviso that the safety driver should be monitoring both the road traffic environment and vehicle systems so that they may resume proper control, if necessary, even if the system does not issue a takeover demand.

This Code should be used by trialling organisations in conjunction with detailed knowledge of the legal, regulatory and technological landscape, ensuring they are compliant with all relevant UK law.

Responsibility for ensuring that trials of these technologies and services on public roads or in other public places is conducted safely always rests with those organising the trial. Compliance with the Code is one of many possible steps that trialling organisations should take to minimise risk.

Updates to the Code

This Code of Practice is an update to an earlier document the pathway to driverless cars: a code of practice for testing, published by DfT in July 2015. This established the UK as a global leader for trialling automated vehicle technologies and services on public roads. Based on lessons learnt from real-world trials in the UK, updates to the 2015 code of practice are now necessary to provide further guidance to support organisations to conduct safe and responsible trials in the UK, as well as to maintain the UK position as a world leader in this industry.

Updates include:

  • detail on engagement strategies, including safety cases, and ways of working with relevant bodies and the public

  • improved understanding of technical developments, such as the need to access vehicle data

  • development of a process to support advanced trials on public roads

While this version updates and replaces the previous version of the code of practice, it does not introduce any new legal requirements or barriers. This update provides greater clarity on the government’s expectations for responsible trials of automated vehicle trials and services.

The updates to this Code form part of a broader programme of activities designed to support the future development, sale and use of automated vehicle technologies and services in the UK. The Law Commission for England Wales and Scottish Law Commission also recommended for a new, flexible legal framework. This framework will be designed to support the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles in the UK and provide clarity on liabilities. See their joint 4 year review on automated vehicles for more.

This Code will be subject to future updates, based on feedback from users and the public, and an increased understanding of the technology. A timetable for the frequency or magnitude of future updates has not been set to retain maximum flexibility and respond appropriately to any feedback and/or technological development. This allows the Code to balance the need to keep up to speed with technological developments while providing continuity and certainty for those carrying out trials.

General Requirements

This section sets out the legal requirements for conducting public trials of automated vehicle technologies and services in the UK, as well as guidance and best practices for responsible trials of such technologies and services.

As stated in the introduction to this Code, conducting public trials of automated vehicle technology is possible in the UK at any level, provided the following legal requirements are met:

  • a driver is present, in or out of the vehicle, who is ready, able, and willing to resume control of the vehicle

  • the vehicle is roadworthy

  • appropriate insurance in place

It is the responsibility of those carrying out trials to ensure that their trials comply with all relevant legal requirements. Deploying a service may require appropriate licensing.


UK law requires the use of motor vehicles to be insured, and this statutory requirement still applies when trialling automated vehicles. Therefore, any trialling organisation conducting activities on public roads and/or other public places must make sure that they have appropriate insurance, or otherwise comply with the statutory requirements. See section 143 Road Traffic Act (RTA) (and for Northern Ireland, part VIII, article 90, Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981) users of motor vehicles to be insured or secured against third-party risks – failure to do so is an offence.

Advanced trials

The government is aware of the growing desire to conduct more advanced trials on public roads. These trials may currently be outside of the law and may require support and facilitation from DfT to proceed. As a result, the department’s motoring agencies will develop and operate a process to support advanced trials on public roads. This process will be available for trialling organisations that are ready to conduct these trials.

Those planning advanced trials on public roads should contact CCAV as far in advance as possible.

Safety cases

Trialling organisations are expected to develop a detailed safety case before conducting trials which demonstrates that the trial activity can be conducted safely (with safety defined as the absence of unreasonable risk). Those conducting trials are expected to develop a safety case which is proportionate to the trial activity, and representative of any associated risks.

The list below outlines the issues that should be covered by a safety case. It is not exhaustive, and those carrying out trials should build on this foundation:

  • information on the specific trial activity, vehicles, and operational domain of the trial

  • evidence that the trial activity can be performed safely, whether with a safety driver in the vehicle or with a remote safety operator

  • safety driver or operator training

  • processes for managing the trial activity, and organisational responsibilities for managing the trial

  • how the trial aligns with legislation and regulations

  • evidence of engagement with relevant bodies, authorities, and other road users

  • updates on milestones and progress reports of specific trial activity

Those carrying out trials are expected to develop and maintain a robust safety case and continue to assess the safety of any trial activity. Such safety cases are recommended to be made available to the public (see section 3.10).

Trialling organisations should consider safety standards and principles when developing a safety case, such as Assuring the operational safety of automated vehicles (BSi PAS 1881:2022).

Passenger and freight services

Developing a service for passengers or freight is possible, organisations seeking to trial the use of automated vehicle technologies for passenger or freight services must comply with the current regulatory regimes. Those looking to run such services are encouraged to engage with the department and CCAV at the earliest opportunity.

The department can provide guidance and advice to help ensure that any pilots or trials are compatible with existing licensing and regulatory regimes, or to provide information on the relevant licensing body.

Data access

Trialling organisations are strongly recommended to develop plans for police investigators and relevant organisations to readily and immediately access data relating to an incident in a way that maintains the forensic integrity, security, and preservation of the data. This may include agreement with emergency services prior to trial activity, such as service level commitments for responding to incidents or requests for information.

The presentation of data should be intelligible and not require complex analysis or interpretation techniques. Where data is not immediately intelligible, it is expected that trialling organisations will fully support investigators as part of any requests for access.

Software versions

Automated vehicle technologies and related systems rely on the operation and interaction of multiple computers and electronic control modules. It is important that:

  • software versions and revisions running on each vehicle to be trialled are clearly documented and recorded

  • all software and revisions have been subjected to extensive and well-documented testing – this should typically start with bench testing and simulation, before moving to trials on a closed test track or private road. Only then should trials or pilots be conducted on public roads or other public places

Data protection

Trials are likely to involve the processing of personal data. For example, if data is collected that enables individuals to be personally identified, this will amount to the processing of personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018. Trialling organisations must ensure that they comply with data protection legislation, including the requirements that the personal data is used fairly and lawfully, kept securely and for no longer than necessary.

Guidance for organisations on complying with the data protection laws can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office’s website. Trialling organisations should consider whether to undertake a privacy impact assessment as described in the Information Commissioner’s Office’s code of practice.

Trialling organisations should be familiar with the principles, including principle 7:

The storage and transmission of data is secure and can be controlled.

While undertaking a privacy impact assessment is not a legal requirement, it is a useful tool to help a project comply with data protection laws. As recognised in the Information Commissioner’s Office’s code of practice, the privacy impact assessment can be developed flexibly and proportionately, depending on how complex or straightforward the privacy issues are for a particular trial or pilot.

Cyber security

Manufacturers providing vehicles, and other organisations supplying parts for trials will need to ensure that all vehicle systems have appropriate security measures to manage data security and the risk of unauthorised data access. Trialling organisations are recommended to follow the UK government’s key principles of cyber security for connected and automated vehicles and should also consider adopting the fundamental principles of automotive cyber security (BSI PAS 1885) in addition to the other relevant standards and guidance that are referenced in each of these guides. These consider the development and production of trial vehicles, in addition to organisational factors that would contribute to the overall security of the operation.

Trialling organisations should consider adopting the security principles set out in Information technology – systems trustworthiness, governance and management specification (BS 10754 to 1:2018).

Contingency planning

Trialling organisations should agree contingency measures with the appropriate authorities in the event of an unintended situation or incident. Agreements on the following are encouraged:

  • plans for public communications including agreed statements, releases, and any other publications where appropriate across relevant organisations during an investigation or incident response

  • plans for scaling down, pausing, or terminating activities during investigations or following an incident

  • identifying single points of contact in relevant organisations (such as those identified in the contacts section)

  • internal planning and rehearsal of contingency measures

  • service level agreements for facilitation of any investigatory efforts (such as access to vehicle data)

The availability of technical advice to the emergency services should be discussed and agreed upon in advance of the trial so that in the event of an incident those attending are aware of any unusual features of the vehicles under trial.


This section provides guidance on engaging with the relevant bodies and authorities, and the public. Engaging with the right people and organisations, consistently and openly, before and during public trial activity can have major benefits for organisations conducting trials.

Minimum engagement

Trialling organisations should inform CCAV before conducting any public trials. See the contacts section of this guide for more.

Those planning a trial should engage with all relevant organisations with responsibility for the trial area(s) at the earliest opportunity, including, where relevant, those listed below. The list is not intended to be exhaustive – trialling organisations will need to take full responsibility for understanding those that may be affected:

  • landowners

  • members of the public

  • highways authorities

  • transport authorities and local authorities, including county councils, district councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts

  • traffic commissioners for Great Britain

  • police

  • CCAV

  • the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA)

The authorities listed above may be able to provide guidance and support including:

  • advice on proposed route(s) and impact/integration with the existing public transport network

  • information about planned issues on the network such as roadworks or road closures

  • advice about local policies that might apply, for example the existence of low emission zones

  • advice on applying for operating licences if, for example, the trial includes piloting a public service, heavy goods vehicle (HGV), taxi or private hire vehicle (PHV)

  • guidance on what to do in the event of a reportable incident

  • support with public communications and / or media coverage

  • feedback from the public

Specific infrastructure requirements that are considered necessary to support a trial, for example, traffic signing or parking adjustments, will need to be agreed upon with the appropriate authorities responsible for the roads. Trialling organisations should engage with the relevant highway authorities before conducting any trials. Highways authorities have obligations to protect road users from any activity being planned on their network. Those planning trials should ensure that trials meet these requirements.

Any reportable incidents are expected to be communicated to the police. Depending on the specific incident, the police and any other organisation relevant to an investigation may require access to relevant vehicle data. For guidance on data access, see the data recording section.

Trialling organisations should maintain engagement throughout the duration of trial activity and beyond where necessary. It is recommended that trialling organisations establish a single point of contact to facilitate this engagement, which is publicly and easily accessible for those looking to engage with those responsible for the trial.

Public communications

Trialling organisations should develop a public relations and communications strategy. This can have many benefits, such as mitigating risks and potential issues that may arise during public trials. Developing a public relations and communications strategy can help those conducting trials to:

  • educate the public regarding the potential benefits of the trial and technology

  • explain the general nature of the trial to be undertaken

  • understand and explain the implications for other road users and develop appropriate mitigation measures

Consider how to provide special consideration for more vulnerable road users including:

  • those with reduced mobility
  • those with visual or hearing impairments
  • pedestrians
  • cyclists
  • motorcyclists
  • children
  • horse riders

You should also consider how to respond proactively to any incidents that may occur during a trial.

To encourage greater cooperation with relevant bodies and the public, it is recommended that trialling organisations publish a public-facing version of their safety case, as detailed in the following section.

Publishing safety cases

Trialling organisations should develop a detailed safety case before conducting trials, and make an abridged, public version freely available. Research carried out by Transport Systems Catapult recommends that trialling organisations should publish an abridged, public, version of their safety case.

Publishing a safety case for public consumption can help educate and inform other road users, as well as providing assurance on the safety of the trial. It can also provide those affected by the trial with useful information, contact points and reassurance. Any published safety case should also be sent to CCAV. Safety cases should be regularly updated where possible.


Trialling organisations should keep reports on the performance of the trial vehicle, such as through regular reporting on trial outcomes, which may also include any incidents or issues encountered during the trial. Providing reports of trial performance can help to inform and educate the public and is a useful communication tool to increase transparency and engagement. This may be satisfied through the publication of milestones and reports within a public safety case.

Local authorities

To aid the government’s understanding and examination of potential future routes to market and the possibilities for long-term legal reform, this code hopes to contribute to, and support, a sustainable, responsible and communicative ecosystem of trialling and early-stage piloting. This will only be possible with the cooperation of numerous public bodies. To support the industry’s interaction with public authorities, local authorities are encouraged to adopt a principle of pragmatic, proportionate administration while prioritising the safety of passengers, other road users, and the wider public.

Should a local authority consider any proposed trial activities to be unsuitable, local authorities are encouraged to consider and propose possible alternatives. To facilitate engagement and collaboration, it is recommended that local authorities establish a single point of contact within their organisation, for the team or individual(s) who will have responsibility for automated vehicle policy, trials, and use.

Freedom of Information Act

Information held by public authorities, such as those listed in contacts section, is subject to applications for disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The presumption of the Act is in favour of disclosure unless there is a good reason to withhold information.

To withhold information following a request being made, the information must fall under one of the exemptions listed under part II of the FOIA. Most exemptions are subject to a public interest test. Some examples of exemptions for withholding information are where to release the information that would:

  • prejudice the conduct of public affairs
  • prejudice a person or company’s commercial interests
  • inhibit full and frank advice and discussion between an organisation/interested party and government

Trialling organisations should consider these applications for disclosure when sharing information with public authorities.

Safety driver and operator requirements

This section provides guidance on the expected behaviour and competence of safety drivers and operators, as well as guidance on the legal requirements for those carrying out trials. Safety drivers and operators, at all levels of automated vehicle technologies, must be able to take control of the vehicle at all times and are required to have a full view of the road ahead. Trialling organisations should consider the use of more than one safety driver or operator ready and willing to take control of the vehicle to provide as a high level of safety as possible.

Requirements to oversee trials

During automated vehicle trials on public roads or in other public places, a suitably licensed and trained safety driver or safety operator should supervise the vehicle at all times, ensuring the vehicle is observing traffic laws, and should be ready and able to over-ride automated operation if necessary. The safety driver or operator may be outside of the vehicle, as long as they have the necessary capability to be able to resume control of the vehicle.

For remote-controlled tests, safety drivers or safety operators should understand any risks associated with remote access. This includes handling any communication or control latency and mitigating and responding to any network problems.

The safety driver or safety operator is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of the vehicle at all times whether it is in a manual or automated driving mode. The safety driver or operator should be familiar with and understand the systems under trial, their capabilities and any limitations, and be able to anticipate the need to intervene and resume manual control if necessary.

The safety driver or safety operator should be authorised to perform this role by the organisation responsible for conducting the trial. Trialling organisations should have robust risk management processes and training procedures in place and should ensure that safety drivers and operators hold the appropriate UK driving licence or recognised equivalent.

Safety drivers and safety operators must still observe the road traffic laws that apply when vehicles are used in public places that are not on public roads. This includes traffic laws that protect the public from careless or dangerous driving and restrict where vehicles can be driven.

In locations other than public roads, and where the vehicle’s maximum speed is limited to a maximum of 15 mph, trials should be overseen by a safety driver or operator who can, as a minimum, apply an emergency stop control.

Licence requirements

The safety driver or operator must hold the appropriate category of driving licence for the vehicle under trial if on a public road. This is true even if the trial vehicle is operating entirely in an automated mode. It is strongly recommended that the licence holder also has several years’ experience of driving the relevant category of vehicle.

In the case of a prototype vehicle which cannot easily be categorised, the nearest equivalent conventional category of licence is expected to be held.

The trialling organisation should not use safety drivers or operators whose driving history indicates that they may present a risk to public safety.

For trials not conducted on public roads, it is strongly recommended that the safety driver or safety operator still holds the appropriate category of licence for the vehicle, even though this is not a legal requirement.


Safety drivers and safety operators supervising public road trials should understand the capabilities and potential limitations of the technologies under trial as completely as possible. They should be familiar with the characteristics of the vehicle, preferably through extensive experience of trials conducted on closed roads or test tracks.

Remote-controlled operations may have associated risks, such as latency and loss of contact with the vehicle. Safety drivers and safety operators should be trained to mitigate and safely respond to any connectivity or control issues.

The responsibility for ensuring safety drivers and safety operators have received the appropriate training and are competent lies with the trialling organisation. Trialling organisations are expected to develop robust procedures to ensure the competency of safety drivers and operators.

There is an expectation that trialling organisations ensure that safety drivers and safety operators undergo continuous development and training. Trialling organisations are recommended to consider how to appropriately measure safety driver/operator performance and availability.

Safety drivers and safety operators should be aware of the situations in which it may be necessary to intervene. Training should cover potentially hazardous situations that may be encountered and the appropriate action to take when resuming manual control of the vehicle.

Training in the process of transitioning between conventional manual control and an automated mode is particularly important. It is critical to safety that those conducting trials are fully aware of exactly how control is passed between the safety driver or safety operator and the vehicle.

Safety driver hours

Safety drivers and safety operators are required to remain alert and ready to intervene if necessary, throughout the trial period. Trialling organisations should develop robust procedures to ensure that safety drivers and operators are sufficiently alert to perform their role and do not suffer fatigue. This could include setting limits for the amount of time that safety drivers and operators perform such a role per day and the maximum duration of any one trial period. Those carrying out trials should consult UK rules for drivers’ hours.


Trialling organisations should have in place clear rules regarding safety driver and operator behaviour and ensure that these are known and understood. The rules should cover any restrictions on the use of alcohol and drugs, over and above existing legal restrictions. This will help prevent a safety driver or operator’s judgement and ability to perform their role from being impaired.

Trialling organisations should consider having a back-up driver or operator, to provide greater assurance of safety to the trial, and to prevent exhaustion or fatigue of a single driver.

All existing laws regarding driver behaviour must be complied with. For example, complying with speed limits, exchanging insurance details in the event of a collision, as well as the rule that prohibits a driver from viewing a display screen when driving (unless looking at information relevant to the journey, such as routing), continue to apply even if the vehicle is operating in an automated mode.

Safety drivers and operators should be conscious of their appearance to other road users, for example continuing to maintain gaze directions appropriate for normal driving, to prevent any distraction to other drivers. This may be particularly noticeable and distracting where the vehicle is being remotely controlled, and trialling organisations should consider the potential negative impact on other road users.

Vehicle Requirements

This section provides guidance on the vehicles under trial, as well as the legal requirements for the operation of such vehicles on public roads and public places.

General vehicle requirements

Trialling organisations wishing to trial automated vehicle technologies on public roads (or other places which the public can access) must ensure that the trial vehicles can be used in a way that is compatible with all applicable law.

The vehicle must be roadworthy and must, if used on a public road, meet the relevant national in-service requirements as detailed in the Construction and Use Regulations.


These requirements vary depending on vehicle type and the nature of the trial undertaken, normally:

  • a motorcycle, tricycle or quadricycle trial vehicle which is over 3 years old (4 years old in Northern Ireland) must have a valid MOT certificate

  • a private passenger vehicle with up to 8 passenger seats or light goods (up to 3.5 tonnes GVW) trial vehicle, which is over 3 years old (4 years old in Northern Ireland) must have a valid MOT certificate

  • taxis and private hire vehicles in GB will need to comply with the local authority taxi inspection requirements and/or have a valid MOT after 12 months old

  • HGVs or public service vehicles will need to have a valid test certificate after 12 months old

See the MOTs for more information.

Note: Northern Ireland MOTs are different and there are additional requirements for taxis/private hire vehicles.

Trialling organisations risk civil and criminal prosecution if a vehicle is not deemed fit for trialling or for driving on public roads. If a vehicle cannot meet such requirements, trialling organisations should contact DfT for further guidance.

If a trial vehicle is operated under the Special Types General Order 2003 (STGO) or a vehicle special order (VSO) it is exempt from the requirement to have an MOT test certificate, however, the vehicle must nevertheless remain roadworthy at all times.

For more information on MOT exemptions, see the DVLA form V112 form.

See the vehicle authorisations and exemptions for more complex CAV trails of this code of practice for more information on STGO and VSO.

Notifiable alterations

DVSA acts on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport to receive and evaluate notifications from vehicle operators of changes they have made to their HGV, public service vehicle (PSV) and heavy trailer vehicle’s specification. The requirement to notify is dependent on the vehicle type as specified in the Road Traffic Act 1988, Part II – Section 49 and the Vehicle Excise and Regulation Act 1994 – Section 61A.

For PSVs, the operator must notify DVSA, using the form VTP5 Notification of an Alteration to a Public Service Vehicle. More information is available on notifiable alternations standards and requirements.

For HGVs (including trailers) the operator must notify DVSA, using form VTG10 notification of alterations or application for a change in plated details of a goods motor vehicle or trailer for design weight certificate.

When you notify DVSA of an alteration related to an automated vehicle trial, also contact:

In-house trials, progression, and testbeds

While public trials are an important step in developing a fully functioning and safe automated driving system, it is only once sufficient virtual, private testing and prototyping has been conducted that a trialling organisation should move towards trials on public roads or other public places. Public trials should not be relied upon to provide the full range of scenarios that an automated driving system will need to respond to safely. Trialling organisations will need to ensure that the vehicles have successfully completed appropriate in-house virtual trials and physical trials on closed roads or test tracks.

As part of their risk management procedures, those conducting trials should determine when sufficient in-house trials have been conducted to have confidence that public road trials are possible without creating undue additional risk to road users. Trialling organisations should maintain an audit trail of such evidence and data.

Those looking to carry out public trials as part of a journey towards full deployment should consider the testbed facilities located around the UK.

For more information on testbeds, contact Zenzic, who support the development of automated vehicle technology through projects and testbeds by facilitating partnerships across a wide range of sectors.

See the contacts section for more.

Remote-controlled operation

Remote-controlled operation of a vehicle is possible if carried out in line with the legal requirements and the guidance set out in this code. Those looking to undertake a remote-controlled trial of an automated vehicle on public roads or other public places will need to assure themselves that the remote-control system is able to deliver the same level of safety as having a driver inside of the vehicle.

Such safety outcomes may be achieved through 2-way, real-time communications links and full processes to deal with any failures. Those conducting remote-controlled trials are still required to have real-time supervision of the vehicle and its surroundings.

Remote-controlled trials should have appropriate redundancies in place to handle any failures or disengagements, including warning systems and the ability to allow the safety operator to take control of the vehicle at all times. A full risk assessment should be undertaken to determine whether remote control operation is appropriate.

Those conducting remote-controlled vehicle tests should mitigate and safely respond to risks associated with network access. Remote-controlled operation may fail if there is wider communication network failure, or if access to the communication network is throttled. Trialling organisations should have a full understanding of connectivity in chosen operational domains.

Data recording

Automated vehicles under trial or deployment should be fitted with a data recording device or series of devices capable of capturing data from sensors and control systems associated with the automated features of the vehicle, as well as other information concerning vehicle movement. This is a minimum expectation for trials on public roads to provide safety and assurance to other road users.

This data should, at a minimum, be able to determine who or what was controlling the vehicle. The data should be securely stored. In the event of an incident, such data should also be preserved in full. It is expected that responsible trialling organisations will cooperate fully with the relevant authorities by providing access to any relevant data.

Vehicle trials will typically generate a large amount of data. It is recommended that data recorders should record, at a minimum at 10 Hz, the following information:

  • details of the automated system, for example, software version, hardware specifications

  • whether the vehicle is operating in manual or automated mode

  • longitudinal acceleration in the vehicle’s direction of travel

  • lateral acceleration when the vehicle moves sideways

  • vertical acceleration when the vehicle mounts a kerb, central island, speed hump or other object which causes the vehicle to rise

  • vehicle speed

  • steering command and activation

  • braking command and activation

  • operation of the vehicle’s lights and indicators

  • (if applicable) operation of the vehicle’s ignition

  • geo-location

  • connectivity, network access, and latency

  • use of the vehicle’s audible warning system (for example a horn)

  • sensor data concerning the presence of other road users or objects in the vehicle’s vicinity

  • remote commands which influence the vehicle’s movement (if applicable)

  • any intervention made by the safety driver or safety operator, including the time of such intervention

Video and audio recording systems should be considered for trial vehicles. The video and audio recordings might include data on the vehicle’s external and/or internal environment. However, this should not be considered as an alternative to the data recording requirements specified above and should be viewed as an additional means for recording trial and vehicle data.

In the event of an incident, an event data recorder should be able to capture a suggested minimum period of 30 seconds before the incident, and 15 seconds after. It is recommended that the minimum recording frequency is 50 Hz in this scenario. It is for those carrying out trials to develop plans that are proportionate to the trial and vehicle under trial, as well as being sufficiently capable of capturing data for investigation purposes.

Transition between automated and manual (human-controlled) modes

An important issue for the safety of automated vehicle trials is the management of any transitions from manual control to automated mode and, in particular, from automated mode back to manual control.

The transition system should:

  • be easily and clearly understood by the safety driver or safety operator

  • take over demands should be audible, visible, and/or haptic as appropriate, and trialling organisations should consider the practicalities of how an alert might work

  • ensure that the driver is given a clear indication of whether the vehicle is in manual or automated mode

  • ensure that the driver is given sufficient notice to resume manual control when necessary. Those conducting trials should consider potential hazards and the parameters of the trial area

  • allow the driver to quickly and easily retake control of the vehicle if necessary

Ensuring that the transition periods between manual and automated modes reduce risk is an important part of the vehicle development process. This should be developed and proven during private track testing prior to trials on public roads or other public places.

Trialling organisations should establish a process to monitor the situational awareness of any safety drivers or safety operators and to capture information regarding driver distraction and inattention. This is particularly important in the lead-up to any transition, regardless of whether the transition is initiated by the vehicle or the safety driver or safety operator.

A process should also be in place to handle the absence of a response from a safety driver. If the vehicle initiates a demand to transition to manual control and the safety driver or operator does not respond, the vehicle should be capable of achieving, as far as is reasonably possible, a minimum risk condition. This minimum risk condition may vary depending on the operational domain, and could for example include slowing down, coming to a complete stop, or moving to a safe harbour.

Failure warning

In the event of a malfunction or failure of the technology under trial, the safety driver or safety operator should be made aware with an audible warning which may be accompanied by a visual warning. Trialling organisations should also consider the need for other methods of making a safety driver aware of a fault, such as haptic feedback.

The vehicle’s automated braking and steering systems, and other systems, should be designed such that, in the event of failure the vehicle can achieve a minimal risk condition explained in earlier paragraphs. which may include manoeuvring to a safe or safer location.


Trialling organisations are strongly encouraged to engage with the relevant bodies, authorities, and the public when considering a trial on public roads. The information below is a non-exhaustive list of contact points. Trialling organisations are expected to make every effort to determine who might be affected by any trial activity.

Highways authorities

Highways authorities can provide information relating to roads and routes, and other important information that might affect a trial, such as planned roadworks. Trialling organisations should engage with highway authorities as early as possible when considering a public trial, and effort should be made to understand the implications of any such trials on road owners and those responsible for any affected highway or route.



See the Scottish Government website for a full list of local authorities.

Northern Ireland

See the Northern Ireland Direct website for a full list of local authorities.




Contact the the Strategic Road Network (England’s motorways and major A roads) via:

See the Local government association website for a full list of local authorities.

Vehicle registration, standards, approvals, and prototypes

Trialling organisations seeking clarity or guidance on the registration, use, and construction of their vehicles should contact DfT agencies for further information on prototype vehicles.

DVLA email:

DVSA email :

Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) email:

Regional Transport Bodies

In some areas, local government bodies are responsible for public transport and will therefore be best placed to advise those looking to conduct trials of any potential issues or considerations. Those looking to carry out trials should contact the relevant regional transport body as well as the local authority responsible for any road or roads being considered for trials.

Trials in London

Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for the network of principal road routes in London. When conducting trials in London, trialling organisations should contact TfL, who will be able to advise on the use of their road network, as well as any other bodies or authorities responsible for the proposed trial routes.

Contact TfL email:


The UK is home to several testbeds and test tracks. The UK government and industry partners are investing nearly £200 million into CAM Testbed UK, to develop diverse public domain and virtual testing facilities that range from rural to high-density areas like London.

Those looking to carry out public trials should first ensure that the technology under trial has undergone extensive private testing.

Zenzic was created by the government and industry in 2018 to accelerate the CAV revolution in the UK and coordinates CAM Testbed UK.

Zenzic can be contacted by email:

There are several individual organisations that operate within CAM Testbed UK. These are:


The police have established a central point of contact to provide guidance and clarity to trialling organisations. Emergency services should be contacted prior to any trial activity.



Trialling organisations are encouraged to contact CCAV to seek guidance and advice, particularly with regard to the Code of Practice. CCAV are open to engaging with trialling organisations and other interested parties and will provide advice and guidance where appropriate.


General feedback on the code of practice is welcomed. Users of the code should send any feedback or suggested changes to the email address below.



Automated driving system

An automated driving system (ADS) is a vehicle system that uses both hardware and software to perform all of the dynamic driving tasks (all the activities associated with moving a vehicle, other than strategic tasks like journey scheduling) needed to undertake a journey. When activated, the vehicle enters automated mode (self-driving mode), and the driver does not need to monitor the road traffic environment or the ADS. The ADS may work within specific driving situations (sometimes referred to as an operational design domain), or in any driving situation. Outside of these situations, a driver is needed to control the vehicle.

Conditionally automated vehicle

A vehicle fitted with an ADS requires a safety driver to act as a fallback for the system to assure safety while the vehicle is in automated mode. The safety driver must respond to a system takeover demand.

Highly automated vehicle

A vehicle fitted with an ADS that does not require a safety driver as a fallback. The driver does not need to respond to a system takeover demand. The ADS can be activated within specific driving situations such as motorway driving or in low-speed conditions. This may represent part of a journey, or all of a journey if it begins and ends within the specified driving situation.

Fully automated vehicle

A vehicle fitted with an ADS that does not require a safety driver as a fallback. The vehicle is capable of safely completing any journey without the need for a driver in all traffic, road and weather conditions that could be managed by a competent human driver.

Driver-assistance system

Driver-assistance systems support but do not replace the driver. These systems include automated lighting, cruise control, lane departure warnings and traction control. These systems are not designed to perform all of the dynamic driving tasks, though some driver-assistance system features may be adapted to perform some of the tasks, such as lane changing.

Driver, test driver, or safety driver

A driver, test driver, or safety driver is normally interpreted as a person who is able to control the vehicle’s speed and direction. This person may be referred to as the driver even when the vehicle is operating in an automated mode. At all times those undertaking the test must be able to identify the driver who is able to exercise proper control of the vehicle, whether seated in the vehicle or remotely.

Test operator, safety operator, or remote safety operator

A test operator or safety operator is a driver who oversees the testing of an automated vehicle without necessarily being seated in the vehicle since some automated vehicles might not have conventional manual controls and/or a driver’s seat. In this case, it is expected that the test operator would still be able to override the automated operation of the vehicle at any time.

Minimal risk condition

A minimal risk condition is where a vehicle undertakes actions, such as performing a manoeuvre or emergency stop to bring itself out of potential hazards or dangers. The specific action taken to achieve a minimal risk condition may vary depending on the operational domain, and could, for example, include slowing down, coming to a complete stop, or moving to a safe harbour. The manoeuvre or stop should ideally ensure that the vehicle is safely positioned and removes as far as possible any risk or hazards to other road users.

Reportable incident

Under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, drivers have a duty to stop, report, and provide documents and information in the event of an incident. Section 170 covers a number of cases where the duty applies, such as personal injury to a person other than the driver, or where damage is caused to another vehicle, any property, or animals listed in the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Public service vehicle reportable incidents

In addition to the above Road Traffic Act incident reporting requirements, operators of public services vehicles are required under section 20 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 to report any incidents to DVSA where there are any fatalities, serious injuries, significant damage or vehicle system or equipment failures.

See guidance on how to report an incident involving your organisation’s bus or coach.

Construction and use regulations

In this Code, construction and use regulations mean, for Great Britain, the road vehicles (construction and use) regulations 1986 and, for Northern Ireland, the motor vehicles (construction and use) regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999, both as amended.

Relevant areas of road traffic law and the highway code

In most cases, it is envisaged that the safety driver is inside the vehicle. If an organisation is considering having a driver outside the vehicle (a safety operator) it will need to give this careful consideration. Those conducting trials are expected to provide a credible explanation in a safety case as to how the driver will comply with the relevant road traffic laws and (if applicable) passenger services laws. These are identified below. It is recommended that the organisation seek a legal opinion as part of this process.

In respect of the Highway Code, many of the rules are legal requirements and are mirrored in existing road traffic laws. Such rules are identified in the Highway Code by the use of the words, ‘must / must not’. While failure to comply with the other rules of the Code will not in itself cause a person to be prosecuted, this may be used as evidence in any court proceedings under the traffic law to establish liability.

Note: the law concerning Northern Ireland and other devolved administrations, where applicable, is highlighted below.

Conditions that must be in place before a person drives a vehicle

Road Traffic Act 1988

Section 87 driving without a licence is an offence, as is causing or permitting another person to drive a vehicle on the road without a licence.

Section 3 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

Duties and obligations of persons responsible for driving the vehicle, when driving Road Traffic Act 1988.

Section 3 careless and considerate driving: a person must drive with due care and attention and reasonable consideration for other persons using the road/place. Article 12 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

Section 15 onus on the driver to ensure that children under 14 years old are wearing a seatbelt.

Article 24 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

Section 41D driver distraction: no person shall drive (or permit another to do so) if they do not have proper control and full view of the road and traffic ahead.

Section 41D no person shall drive using a hand-held mobile or device.

Regulation 125A Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (NI) 1986.

Section 40A offence to cause, permit or use a vehicle where its condition, purpose, passengers or load are likely to lead to a danger of injury to any person.

Article 54 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

Section 170 requires a driver involved in an accident to stop, provide information (name, address, insurance) and report an accident to the police within 24 hours. Articles 175 and 176 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

Road vehicles (construction and use) regulations 1986

Regulation 104 driver distraction: no person shall drive (or permit another to do so) if they do not have proper control and full view of the road and traffic ahead.

Regulation 120 Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (NI) 1986.

Regulation 107. No person shall leave a running motor vehicle unattended.

Regulation 123 Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (NI) 1986.

Regulation 109 restricts the driver from having a view of a display screen.

Regulation 125 Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (NI) 1986.

Regulation 110 no person shall drive using a hand-held mobile or device.

Regulation 125A Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (NI) 1986.

Highway Code

Rule 160 drive with both hands on the wheel where possible to help remain in full control of the vehicle at all times.

NI Highway Code: Rule 160.

Compliance with road traffic directions.

Road Traffic Act 1988.

Section 35 drivers to comply with traffic directions given by police officers on the road, failure to do so will be committing an offence.

Article 49 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

Section 36 drivers to comply with traffic signs or the directions of a traffic survey.

Article 50 Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Part VI. Section 89 compliance with the law relating to speed limits.

Part VI Road Traffic Regulation (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.

Highway Code.

Rule 238. Operating a vehicle in compliance with road markings.

NI Highway Code: Rule 238.

Vehicle authorisations and exemptions for more complex CAV trials

The Code of Practice: vehicle authorisations and exemptions for more complex CAV trails gives guidance for more ‘advanced’ on-road trials where either the vehicle(s) or aspects of their operation may need exemptions or authorisations for use on UK roads.