Japan's National Police Agency on Thursday released a draft proposal of a revised road traffic law that for the first time includes provisions for self-driving automobiles.
The proposal is in line with the government's goal for practical operation by 2020 of autonomous vehicles on highways. That goal would have the person in the driver's seat leave all aspects of driving to the control system.
The draft defines the act of running a vehicle in a self-driving mode as driving in legal terms, requiring the driver or user of the system to operate the vehicle safely.
The proposal also would allow the driver to speak on a cellphone while holding the handset, send and read email, and pay close attention to the navigation system screen while the vehicle is self-driven. Such acts are banned under the current law.
The draft also requires self-driving vehicles to be equipped with a data recorder for use in determining the cause of an accident.
The agency plans a further study of the proposal before submitting it to next year's ordinary Diet session.