The Department for Transport has confirmed that they will use public sector fleets to test future policies which will need to be put in place in order to address insurance liability concerns surrounding autonomous vehicles.
The DFT has set out the Vehicle and Aviation Bill 2016-17 which will include important insurance policies such as; “who is to blame when a car is involved in an accident whilst in autonomous mode?” For this particular policy it has been proposed that where an accident is caused by autonomous vehicles driving themselves and the vehicle is insured at the time of the accident, the insurer will be liable for that damage.
However, the insurer would have the right to make a subsequent claim against the vehicle manufacturer if it is thought to be the cause of the accident.
But the bill states, that if the vehicle has not been correctly insured, the driver of the vehicle will then be made liable, even if the vehicle was driving itself. In the case of driver’s failing to install software updates or unofficially altering the vehicle in anyway, the driver would then also be liable.
At the bill’s second reading, transport minister Chris Grayling said: “Under the provisions in the bill, it will be possible to have an insurance policy that covers both eventualities of something going wrong: when the driver is in control and when the vehicle is in autonomous mode.
“That is one of the key changes necessary to create an environment in which such vehicles can operate freely on the roads.”
Grayling also said: “There are enormous possibilities ahead with these technologies. In a few years, we will all increasingly have the opportunity to use semi-automated and automated vehicles.
“However, to make these technologies a reality, we need to act now. We need to create the regimes that will help developers to bring their products to market in a safe way that protects consumers.”