Ministers have launched a consultation on plans to pave the way for automated cars to be used on British roads.
Under measures being proposed by the Department for Transport (DfT), which were trailed in the Queen’s Speech, rules will be changed so automated vehicles can be insured for use on the roads.
The Highway Code and other regulations will be altered 'so advanced driver assistance systems that change lanes on the motorway and park vehicles by remote control can be used safely'.
The DfT said the Government is determined that Britain leads the way globally in embracing the safe development of driverless technology.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘Driverless car technology will revolutionise the way we travel and deliver better journeys.
‘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.’
Under the proposals:
- the ‘Highway Code’ and regulations will be changed to support the safe use of remote control parking and motorway assist features
- insurance law will be changed so that, in the future, motorists who have handed control to their ‘self-driving’ cars can be insured properly.
The proposed changes to insurance will be brought forward in the Modern Transport Bill. Motor insurance will remain compulsory but will be extended to cover product liability for automated vehicles.
The driver’s insurer will still pay out in the normal way 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.
James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: ‘The ABI’s Automated Driving Insurer Group has been engaged in constructive and productive discussions with the DfT for many months now so it is good to see the importance of insurance to the vehicles of the future recognised within this consultation.’
James MacColl, head of campaigns at Campaign for Better Transport, said: 'The Government is pumping millions of pounds into this future technology, whilst everyday transport that people rely on today, like buses, is being starved of investment. Autonomous vehicles could make the roads safer in the future, but they will do nothing to tackle congestion and could even result in more cars clogging up our streets.
'New technology certainly has its place, but investment is needed now in public transport, cycling and walking to deal with the real transport problems we're facing today.'
The consultation on the two changes will run until 9 September. The DfT said it is ‘the start of a rolling programme of reform on the roadmap to fully automated vehicles’.
Separately, the Government will 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.