ABI, Thatcham, insurers to look at potential changes to traffic laws

Google driverless cars

The ABI, along with 11 motor insurers and the industry-financed safety research group Thatcham, will consider the implications for road safety of the new autonomous car technology.

With 94% of road accidents caused by human error, the development of increasingly automated vehicles has huge implications for road safety insurance and liability, ABI said.

The new panel will look at who could be held liable after an accident – drivers, manufacturers, system developers, car dealers, car maintenance firms or a combination of some or all of them?

It will also look at how to cope with vehicles at different levels of automation; how data from individual vehicles will be recorded and used to improve safety and clarify liability; and whether there need to be changes to existing road traffic laws and what those changes might be.

“The presence of driverless cars on UK roads would be life-changing in many ways, and one of the business sectors likely to be most affected is insurance,” said James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI.

“Contrary to what some people might expect, insurers are not standing in the way of this development but actively looking to support progress and innovation,” he said.

“The developments we’ve seen towards increasingly autonomous vehicles are already reaping rewards – with autonomous emergency braking reducing collisions and injuries and helping to bring down insurance premiums,” he added.

“Truly driverless cars have the potential to dramatically reduce deaths and injuries on the roads and could revolutionise what we think of as public transport. The role of motor insurance in such a future will be very different to what it is today, but insurance will be part of the picture.”

Thatcham chief executive Peter Shaw said: “Automated driving is developing at pace, and safety is paramount from both a driver’s perspective as well as an insurance risk. Working with car manufacturers and insurers, we’ll be researching and testing systems, to provide insight and evaluation of the potential risks and benefits at each step of the way towards a world where cars can drive themselves.”