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Highway Code to be updated for driverless cars

The BAE driverless vehicle to be tested in Bristol

The government has launched a major consultation to help pave the way for automated cars to be used on British roads.

Under the proposed measures, the government said that rules would be changed so automated vehicles could be insured for use on the roads.

In addition, it said that the Highway Code and regulations were going to be altered so advanced driver assistance systems that change lanes on the motorway and park the vehicle by remote control could be used safely.

“Driverless car technology will revolutionise the way we travel and deliver better journeys,” said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin. “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.

“Our roads are already some of the safest in the world and increasing advanced driver assist and driverless technologies have the potential to help cut the number of accidents further.”

Separately, the government will also launch a competition next month for a further £30M from the Intelligent Mobility Fund, for research and development of innovative connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

It said that this would build on the first £20M awarded to a number of projects in February, and would ensure the UK was able to take advantage of the latest technological developments in driverless car research. In addition, it said that a £19M fund was also paving the way for driverless car projects in Greenwich, Bristol, and a joint project in Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Cars with advanced driver assistance features, like remote control parking and motorway assist, are expected to be on sale in Britain in the next two to four years, according to the government, with automated and driverless vehicles expected on the roads from the mid-2020s onwards.

The consultation on the two changes is now underway and will last for nine weeks.

Proposed changes to insurance

Government has said that the proposed changes to insurance would be brought forward in the Modern Transport Bill. Motor insurance would remain compulsory but would be extended to cover product liability for automated vehicles.

It said that when a motorist handed control to their vehicle, they could be reassured that their insurance would be there if anything went wrong.

Association of British Insurers (ABI) director of general insurance policy James Dalton said: “The ABI’s automated driving insurer group has been engaged in constructive and productive discussions with the DfT [Department for Transport] for many months now so it is good to see the importance of insurance to the vehicles of the future recognised within this consultation.

“The development of automated driving will revolutionise motoring, potentially as important a road safety innovation as the seatbelt. Insurers strongly support the government’s ambition of making the UK a world leader in this technology and believe the insurance industry has a key role in helping give consumers confidence in using these vehicles when they become more widely available.

“The driver’s insurer will still pay out in the normal way so road accident victims are promptly reimbursed – but the insurer will then be able to claim the money back from the car company if the vehicle is deemed to be at fault.”

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