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Government asks Brits to help guide driverless cars

Autonomous drivingThe government is asking Britain’s motorists to have their say on how it should reform legislation to prepare for the roll-out of autonomous cars in the UK.

The consultation is open for the next nine weeks and is asking motorists for their views on two key pieces of legislation that need to change in order to accommodate autonomous cars:

  • The Highway Code, to account for remote control parking and motorway assist functionality
  • Car insurance law, to ensure motorists who have ‘handed control’ to self-driving cars will still be properly insured

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin wants Britain to be a global leader in embracing driverless car technology as it will “revolutionise the way we travel and deliver better journeys.

“Britain is leading the way but I want everyone to have the chance to have a say on how we embrace and use these technologies.”

The consolation is being launched now because the first wave of autonomous car technologies – so-called highly automated functionality – will start to become commonplace in the next few years.

This includes features such as remote control parking and motorway assist – similar to the Tesla autopilot function that drives the car and changes lanes on motorways.

The next stage is fully automated cars; the government believes these will start to launch in Britain from the mid-2020s. A key piece of legislation to resolve here surrounds car insurance; it will remain compulsory, even for ‘driverless’ cars, but will have extended cover for automated vehicle product liability.

In a nutshell, the government foresees car insurers paying out in the normal way but, if it’s the autonomous car that’s at fault, the insurer will then be able to claim back from the car manufacturer. The necessary changes will be introduced as part of the Modern Transport Bill, announced by the Queen in May.

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