The Roads Minister Andrew Jones has given a speech in Milton Keynes in which he has reiterated that, “driverless cars are coming, and sooner than many people expect.”
Speaking in Milton Keynes, Mr Jones predicted the technology will be a “great step forward” in automotive history, and “potentially add significantly to quality of life and human freedom”, adding that the UK is in a great position to lead their development.
The speech not only focussed on the technological advancements, but also the legislative changes needed to allow driverless cars to operate on British roads.
The Minister promised the Government’s new insurance legislation will “create space for insurers to innovate and meet the needs of a radically different market”.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about what the advent of the driverless car means for the insurance industry,” he said.
“Some of the more excitable commentators have said that driverless cars will make motor insurance unnecessary. I believe that is a lot of pie in the sky, at least for the moment.
“You will know better than anyone the range of things that can lead to insurance claims, many of which will be unaffected by the coming of the driverless car. But what does seem certain is that insurance will need to change.
“Firstly, much of the data on which insurance is priced and sold will steadily become obsolete. Secondly, vast quantities of new kinds of data will become available, assessing not individual driver risk but vehicle behaviour and other factors. And thirdly, in the event of a serious collision when in driverless mode, it would be the vehicle at fault, instead of the human driver.”
Mr Jones said that the proposed legislation is aimed at creating space for the industry to lead these changes, and he promised to amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 motor insurance provisions.
“Compulsory motor insurance will be retained,” he said, “but it will be extended to cover product liability, so that when a motorist has handed control to their vehicle, they can be reassured that their insurance will be there if anything goes wrong. Where the vehicle is at fault then the insurer will be able to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.
The vital point is that, for affected individuals, the insurance process will feel much the same. Motorists and victims of collisions won’t be forced to go to court to obtain compensation. They will have the benefit of fast and fair insurance compensation – just as they do today.”
He promised a consultation on these changes over the summer, with an expectation they will become law in time for applicable vehicles to come onto the market.
You can read his whole speech here.