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Industry given chance to shape new UK laws on driverless and electric vehicles

Car manufacturers, technology providers and insurers, among other businesses and organisations, have been given the chance to help shape new UK legislation on driverless and electric vehicles.26 Oct 2017

A committee of MPs has invited written submissions from stakeholders on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill currently making its way through the UK parliamentary process.

The Public Bill Committee said that the submissions it receives could shape amendments that it could propose be made to the Bill. The Committee is due to consider the Bill between 31 October and 16 November. It encouraged businesses to file their submissions as soon as possible before the end of the Committee stage, which it said could precede the predicted date of 16 November.

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill was introduced before the UK parliament earlier this month. It makes provision for the registration of all driverless cars in the UK, and addresses how liability for accidents involving such vehicles should be apportioned. The Bill is also designed to support upgrades in UK infrastructure to support anticipated growth in the use of electric vehicles.

In relation to the proposals regarding insurance and liability around the use of driverless cars, the Bill would make insurers generally liable for damage stemming from an accident caused by an automated vehicle "when driving itself" where the vehicle is insured and "an insured person or any other person suffers damage as a result of the accident". Where driverless cars are not insured, owners would be left liable for the damage stemming from accidents.

Under the plans, insurers would be able to exclude or limit their liability for damage if insured individuals make "software alterations" that they are prohibited to make under their insurance policy, or if they do no install "safety-critical software updates" that they at least "ought reasonably to know" are "safety-critical".

Where insurers are liable to make payment for damages to those impacted by an accident, they would have a right to raise a claim against those responsible for the accident for recovery of the money they have paid out.

Earlier this week, the transport minister in England, John Hayes, said told MPs that the emergence of driverless cars onto UK roads could cut the cost of motor insurance premiums.

To support the anticipated growth in electric vehicles, the Bill would provide the government with the power to impose a duty on large fuel retailers and "service area operators", such as motorway service stations, to install charging points for such vehicles on their premises.

The regulations, under which those requirements could be imposed, could also require the charge points to be fitted with 'smart' technology that enables it to receive, process, react and transmit information, as well as monitor and record energy consumption.

The technical specifications for the smart charging points could also be geared towards achieving security compliance, energy efficiency and enabling remote access, according to the Bill.

The government has said the 'smart' provisions would allow the charging points to "interact with the grid in order to manage demand for electricity across the country".