IUA calls for change to driverless vehicle laws

Individuals using driverless cars should still not take their eyes off the road, if they could be expected to take over the vehicle at short notice in an emergency, the International Underwriting Association (IUA) has stated. Unless a vehicle is highly automated users should be banned from performing other tasks and legally required to monitor their journey. The association laid out its views in response to a consultation exercise on the future of automated vehicles undertaken by the Law Commission.

The IUA’s director of legal and market services, Chris Jones said driverless vehicle technology is developing rapidly and it is therefore vital to establish a framework for governing their operation and that, importantly, insurers have a key role to play in this process.

“In order for liability to be established, and claims rapidly settled, vehicle data must be recorded and made available,” Jones says. “This will include, for example, the status of the automated system, whether engaged or disengaged, the speed of the vehicle and any camera footage from the time of the accident. It is imperative that innocent victims should not be penalised due to insufficient data being available about the role of automated technology in relation to an accident.”

The Law Commission consultation is part of a three-year project to examine options for regulating automated vehicles and enable their safe deployment in the UK. In replying to the exercise, the IUA also urged the need for a continual review of rules and regulations.

“With any new piece of legislation it is necessary to monitor its effectiveness and this will be particularly important with a developing technology such as automated vehicles,” Jones added. “As information expands and usage grows, we are likely to see potential vulnerabilities highlighted and new risk areas emerge. We anticipate that the technology will be capable of self-reporting system errors, defects and other issues affecting road worthiness.

“Comprehensive data recording and collection will go a long way to ensuring risks are adequately covered and any legislation remains relevant.”

Members of the IUA also argued strongly that data from the period of an accident should be automatically retained for consideration by insurers in the event of a policy claim.

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