Self-driving cars and the future of road accident claims | Fieldfisher
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Self-driving cars and the future of road accident claims

Dushal Mehta
My son asked the other day when he could start learning to drive. I told him he had a fair few more years to wait, but it raised questions about what road safety will look like in the future, not least following the Government's decision to push out driverless cars.

The Government announced it is investing millions into self-driving cars to get them onto the roads by 2025. One of the more startling implications for safety is that neither car owners nor their passengers will need a driving licence to be out on the road. 

Cars, coaches and lorries with driverless capabilities will likely be available to buy and allowed on motorways as soon as next year, but for now will still require an operator with a valid driving licence.

According to the plans in the recent announcement, responsibility for any road traffic collision will fall on the vehicle manufacturer rather than the insurer of those on board. That is a huge switch of responsibility and will impact how personal injury claims are run.

It raises serious concerns as to how easily a manufacturer of an autonomous vehicle can be identified in such a circumstance, considering the various software and other components involved in producing these vehicles, likely created by numerous companies around the world.

Despite the advancing technology that will revolutionise driving and travel, the safety of road users must be top of the agenda so as not to compromise the rights of those who are unfortunate enough to be injured on the roads. It is imperative that they still have a clear way to hold the person responsible accountable for their actions.

Investment in technology is the way forward and, by harnessing that technology, the vision is that self-driving vehicles will improve road safety, so long as individual road users remain protected.

The market must be clear on these issues before the roll out of self-driving vehicles and any changes to legislation to ensure the public fully understands the lines of responsibility and climbs on board with confidence.

Read more about our road traffic accident claims and our settled cases on behalf of clients.

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