In July 2016 the government's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) published a consultation seeking views on proposals to support advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated vehicle technology (AVT).

The consultation explored three areas:

  • the general approach to regulatory reform
  • insurance for automated vehicles
  • changes to the regulatory framework for driving.

CCAV has now published its responses to that consultation, having reviewed feedback from a wide range of stakeholders. In this article, we summarise the key points.

The approach to regulatory reform

The government is mindful that there will be a transitional period as new vehicle technologies replace conventional cars. The proposals set out in the consultation centre on a rolling programme of regulatory reform, taking into account that solutions that will work in the future are unlikely to work now.

Following a review of responses to the consultation, the government has confirmed that it will continue with its proposed rolling programme of regulatory reform. This programme will focus on:

  • changes needed to enable the wide use of ADAS and AVT
  • technologies that the government, in consultation with industry, expect to reach the market in the next two to four years.

Insurance for automated vehicles

The government’s key policy objective is to ensure that drivers of automated vehicles (AVs) are insured so that victims of accidents involving AVs receive compensation quickly and in compliance with the EU Motor Insurance Directive.

In its response to the consultation, the government propose that compulsory insurance for AVs is implemented through a single insurer model. In other words, the insurer covers both the driver’s use of the vehicle and the AV technology itself, so that the driver will be covered when they are driving and when they have activated the automatic technology.

The response sets out two circumstances where the insurer will not be liable:

  1. when the driver failed to install required updates to the vehicle’s software
  2. where the driver makes unauthorised updates to the vehicle’s software.

The government has also made clear that an insurer cannot avoid paying compensation to a victim if the accident is the result of the AV being hacked. Where the manufacturer of the vehicle is found to be liable, the insurer will be able to recover against the manufacturer under existing common law and product liability laws.

Compulsory insurance for AVs is likely to be introduced by the Modern Transport Bill.

Regulatory framework for driving

The arrival of ADAS will have an impact on the Construction and Use Regulations and the Highway Code Rules. The government will take forward policy work on each of these areas and intends to consult on more detailed amendment proposals soon.

The consultation response also highlights a number of other pertinent issues raised by respondents. In particular, respondents highlighted the importance of:

  • a data-sharing framework which allows insurers access to approach data
  • the applicability of data protection legislation to the data generated by AV technology.

Summary

The response is a positive step forward on the pathway to driverless cars. The flexible approach adopted by government in responding to developments in AV technology is cognisant of the need to respond quickly and appropriately to developments in the sector if the UK is to secure its position at the forefront of automated vehicle technologies.