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Driverless definitions promised by Government vital to successful roll out

Establishing clear definitions of which vehicles can be safely used in automated mode is going to be a crucial part of bringing this technology successfully onto the UK’s roads, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said today.

As the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill gets its second reading in Parliament later today, the ABI is pleased the Government has confirmed it will take responsibility for specifying which vehicles can be used autonomously and when. This will help consumers understand the capabilities of their vehicles and make it simpler for insurers to provide appropriate cover.

Insurers argue vehicle manufacturers must also be responsible in how they describe their cars; the term “driverless” should never be used it the driver is still required to be alert and available to intervene in the event of a problem.

Ben Howarth, Senior Policy Adviser on Motor and Liability at the ABI, said: 

“Automated vehicles have the potential to dramatically improve road safety and revolutionise our transport systems. The insurance industry has been working hard alongside Government to help pave the way for them to be used on the UK’s roads, including supporting a straightforward insurance model.

“There will need to be a clear system to establish which vehicles can safely be used in autonomous mode, and we look forward to hearing more from the Government about how these standards will be agreed. Helping drivers understand what their vehicles are capable of will be vital to the safe and successful roll out of these new technologies.”

Insurers’ preparations for the arrival of fully automated cars on the UK’s roads will be discussed further at an ABI event on automated vehicles on May 24th, “Changing gear – adapting to autonomous vehicles.” Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, is keynote speaker. 

Background to the bill:

The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill adopts the insurance industry’s proposals for how the insurance and claims system for autonomous vehicles should work. 

The Bill will extend the application of existing motor insurance to cover both manual and automated driving, as recommended by the ABI. 

The Bill gives insurers a statutory right to recover costs where technology failures cause an accident. This ensures drivers will not be unfairly held responsible for accidents that they could do nothing to prevent. However, motor insurers will always have primary responsibility for settling claims – accident victims will not have to wait for complex disputes over what role the technology played in an accident to be concluded before they receive their compensation.

In order for this claims process to work effectively, all parties will need to have access to some basic data to verify whether or not the vehicle was in automated mode at the time of an incident, as set out here.

Last updated 23/03/2017