The UK is pressing ahead with its plans to support and promote innovative modes of transport. New draft legislation includes a Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill. This introduces the insurance and liability changes consulted on last year (discussed here).
We had expected these changes to form part of a wider Modern Transport Bill, but that project seems to have been broken up into chunks. Plans to promote UK spaceflight, for example, now appear in the recently published Draft Spaceflight Bill.
The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill will require the Department for Transport to keep a list of automated vehicles. These are vehicles that could be used on UK roads and that the Secretary of State for Transport considers are
"designed or adapted to be capable, in at least some circumstances or situations, of safely driving themselves without having to be monitored by an individual."
The insurance changes for driverless cars amount to tweaking of the current system rather than wholesale reform. They will:
- make the insurer of a vehicle causing an accident when it is in self-driving mode liable for resulting damage or injury
- make deductions for contributory negligence or where the vehicle is being allowed to drive in inappropriate conditions
- allow exclusions or limitations in cover where a motorist has not applied software updates, or has interfered with the vehicle’s systems
- allow for self-insurance by public bodies.
The Bill sweeps up some other areas, including:
- improved infrastructure and information for charging electric vehicles
- extending insolvency protection for package holidays, to allow for wider cover of online bookings, etc
- introduction of a criminal offence for dazzling or distracting a vehicle operator with a laser.
You can track the Bill's progress here.