BIBA response to DFT Review of the legislative and regulatory framework for testing driverless cars

23rd September 2014

The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) is the UK's leading general insurance intermediary organisation representing the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers.

BIBA membership includes just under 2,000 regulated firms, who employ more than 100,000 staff.  General insurance brokers contribute 1% of GDP to the UK economy; they arrange 53% of all general insurance and 81% of all commercial insurance business. Insurance brokers put the client’s interests first, providing advice, access to suitable insurance protection and risk management.

BIBA Response Summary

BIBA considers that the testing of, and eventual acceptance of, driverless cars by the Government is a good thing and is positive for the consumer and the insurance industry –

  • Road safety will improve
  • There should be a reduction in vehicle accidents
  • There should be a reduction in personal injury claims
  • Motor insurance premiums will reflect improved accident statistics

However, BIBA has a concern over the use and retention of data from driverless cars by vehicle manufacturers.  BIBA believes that it is important that this data is made easily available to the consumer/car owner to ensure that they have a freedom of choice when arranging their motor insurance through the wider market including brokers, insurers and comparison sites so that the consumer is not restricted to using the manufacturers’ insurance offering.

Q1. Should any special training/testing or a minimum number of years of driving experience be specified for drivers involved in testing driverless cars with high automation?

BIBA would expect test drivers to be experienced vehicle testers/engineer.

Q2. Should a second person be required to be present, as an observer?

Yes – once again an experienced vehicle tester/engineer.

Q3. Do you believe that the normal set of requirements for driver behaviour should still apply or are any exemptions from these required, if so please specify?

BIBA does not believe that there should be any exemptions for the testing of driverless cars and the test driver should be responsible for their actions whilst testing.

Q4. Are any new requirements or constraints necessary?

No comment.

Q5 Do you have any suggestions for an indication to other road users that the vehicle is operating autonomously, or capable of autonomous operation? For example, a warning signal showing autonomous operation or a distinguishing sign (different number plate, sticker on windscreen, etc.) indicating the potential capability of autonomous operation?

BIBA believes that there should be some form of easily recognisable identification of driverless cars for other road users – such as coloured number plates. 

Q6. Should educational materials be developed to advise other road users about the testing of highly autonomous cars?

Yes – public awareness of driverless cars does need to be raised.

Q7. Do you have any observations on the possible reactions of other road users, or the risks of interaction with driverless cars, and possible mitigation measures?

BIBA believes that with increased public awareness of the testing of driverless cars – and awareness of the technology that is being developed and tested – then these concerns should be allayed.

Q8. Do you see any difficulties with the existing product liability regime, when operating driverless cars with high automation?

BIBA understands the Thatcham Research Centre, operated by many leading Insurers, will be undergoing thorough testing of driverless vehicles.  Following a period of successful testing and understanding of new risks emerging by the insurance industry, we would not anticipate any issues with the existing product liability regime.

Q9. Do you have any suggestions for standards to regulate the testing of prototype cars with high automation?

No comment.

Q10. Are there current type approval or construction rules that prototype cars with high automation might not comply with?

No comment.

Q11. Are you able to suggest any specific areas (e.g. braking, steering) or any specific systems/technologies (e.g. ABS, ESC) where regulation needs to be amended or developed, as a priority?

No comment.

Q12. Are any changes to the current roadworthiness regime required to permit the testing of driverless cars, or ensure their safety?

No comment.

Q13. Have you any initial thoughts about any longer term risks and issues as driverless cars age, and possible requirements to address this?

A possible deterioration in the efficiency/effectiveness of the systems which would need to be addressed by enhanced MOT testing.

Q14. Do you have any comments on this approach?

BIBA believes that it is important that such vehicles are properly recorded on the DVLA database as this is used by the insurance industry to obtain vehicle information and any reduction in group rating due to the fitting of high automation technology would need to be able to be recognised.

Q15. Do you anticipate a need for special infrastructure to permit the testing of cars with high automation?

BIBA does not consider that a special infrastructure would need to be put in place for testing – the vehicles would need to be tested in varied, but existing road conditions to ensure their efficacy.

Q16. What issues would need to be addressed, to enable insurers to offer suitable insurance products?

BIBA’s view is that robust testing needs to be completed to ensure the safety of driverless cars and on completion of successful testing suitable insurance products will be available in the insurance market.

The data from driverless cars must be in a format that is easily transferable and made available to the consumer/vehicle owner to allow them to make their own insurance arrangements.  The Government must ensure that the data collected by the vehicle is not solely retained by the vehicle manufacturers to ensure a freedom of choice for the consumer in the wider competitive insurance market.

Q17. Are there other insurance-related issues which may affect the introduction and testing of driverless cars?

BIBA believes that the question of ‘where responsibility rests’ in the event of an accident (i.e. is it the fault of the manufacturer or the ‘driver’ in charge of the vehicle in the event of an accident?) would need to be established in early course. 

Q18. Do you have any suggestions or concerns over data collection and privacy, when considering the testing of cars with high automation?

BIBA recommends compliance with the Data Protection Act and also compliance with similar protocols outlined by the ABI/BIBA guide to ‘Selling Telematics Motor Insurance Policies’ regarding the storage and use of such data.

BIBA would also like to add that it is important that once cars with high automation are accepted and in use it is important that clear rules are in place that allow access and use of the data by the consumer/vehicle owner and that such data is also made available to the consumer and their insurance brokers and insurers to enable proper assessment and underwriting of risk. 

Q19 Do you (a) support amending diverse current regulations to cater for driverless cars alongside conventional ones, or (b) support creating a special regime via specific regulations to permit the testing of driverless cars under certain circumstances or constraints? (Or does it not matter as long as the regulations are appropriate and clear?)

BIBA’s view is that as long as the regulations are clear it does not matter.

Q20 Do you have any other comments on the need for a special regime to cover the testing of driverless cars with high automation? Do you consider any other regulations or aspects of driving practice would pose a barrier, or do you consider that extra conditions would need to be imposed? Please give full details.

No comment.

Should you wish to discuss any of the points raised above in more detail, please contact my colleague Martin Bridges on 0207 397 0234.

Yours faithfully   

Graeme Trudgill FCII

Executive Director

0207 397 0218

[email protected]