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IUA calls for new laws on driverless cars

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Chris Jones

People 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’s views were laid out in response to a consultation exercise on the future of automated vehicles undertaken by the Law Commission. 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.

Chris Jones, IUA Director of Legal and Market Services, said: “The technology surrounding driverless cars is developing rapidly and its appearance on UK roads cannot be too far in the future. It is essential, therefore, that an effective framework is established governing their operation. Insurers have a vital 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. 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.

Mr Jones added: “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.

“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.”

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