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Technology will make motorists more like pilots says the ABI

The development of driverless car technology is likely to lead to the role of motorists resembling aircraft pilots, the ABI said today.
Speaking at a conference organised by The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), the ABI’s Motor Policy Adviser, Scott Pendry, said:
“The advent of driverless cars on our roads is no longer the stuff of science fiction – it could be a reality in the next twenty years. Technology, such as autonomous emergency breaking, is already changing the driving experience and driverless car technology is set to revolutionise it.

"With human error accounting for around 90% of road accidents, the potential safety implications of autonomous technology are huge. This is why the insurance industry is keen to work with vehicle manufacturers, regulators and the legal community on the adoption of this potentially life-saving technology."
Liability is a key issue
Scott Pendry highlighted that driverless car technology raised important questions around liability.Scott Pendry

“When driverless vehicles are involved in accidents, resolving the question of fault will require considering novel and in some cases challenging questions not asked before. The situation at present is clear: even with autonomous technology features on cars, liability rests with the driver.
“In line with aviation, like pilots it is likely that the driver will continue to be held liable in the event of a crash if they are able to step in and intervene, overriding the technology. 
“The key change – and the potential shift to product liability – comes when the driver is not expected to oversee or monitor the vehicle and when they have ceded full driving responsibility to the car itself. Our initial view is that if a system fails  on a fully autonomous vehicle causing it to crash, liability would rest with the vehicle or system manufacturer. This potential shift in liability would only occur when a driver has actively given complete control to the vehicle and has no option to intervene.
“So whether or not there is a complete shift in liability from the driver to the vehicle is likely to depend on whether there is a clear option for the driver to intervene.
“While there are a large number issues and unanswered questions around driverless cars remain, the potential benefits – safer roads, and potentially lower motor insurance premiums – are huge.  While it may take some years for driverless cars to become commonplace on our roads, the pace at which technology is changing the driving experience is set to accelerate.”

For more information, see Scott Pendry's full speech at the PACTS conference.

Last updated 01/07/2016