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Driverless car crashes: How insurance claims could work in the future

2016-12-05 07:54

LAWS FOR THE FUTURE: Driverless cars will need to have their own set of insurance rules and regulations. Image: AP / Jared Wickerham

Cape Town - Cars of the future will need to collect a basis set of data so insurers can determine who was in control of the vehicle at the time - the driver or the car?

One of the key challenges for the future of automated driving will be determining where liability rests in the event of an accident with an automated car. A crucial part of making sure claims are settled fairly will be to understand who was in control of the vehicle at the time - the driver or the car?

Driver or car

Thatcham Research chief executive Peter Shaw said: “Future legislation needs to protect the consumer so that in the event of an accident, responsibility and who pays can be quickly determined. Was it driver error or a failure of the automated driving system? This can only happen if their insurer has access to key data about the crash.

"We would like to see car manufacturers and legislators working together with the insurance industry to develop a framework to make this happen.”

READ: Driverless cars - Who's working with whom?

The key data would be used to:

  • establish liability for anything that had gone wrong;
  • inform emergency services’ investigations;
  • ensure insurance claims could be processed promptly;
  • help vehicle manufacturers improve their products.

How technology will feature

On occasions where faulty technology was shown to have caused an accident insurers should be able to recover the costs from the manufacturer, helping keep insurance premiums down.

The information insurers want to see universally collected only concerns the autonomous systems and driver interaction - it is not proposed that any information measuring driver performance should be gathered.

WATCH: How driverless cars will change our lives

The data would cover a period from 30 seconds before to 15sec after an incident and is:

  • a GPS record of the time and location of the incident;
  • confirmation of whether the vehicle was in autonomous or manual mode;
  • if in autonomous mode, whether the vehicle was parking or driving;
  • when the vehicle went into autonomous mode, and when the driver last interacted with the system;
  • any driver activity such as braking or steering;
  • whether the driver’s seat was occupied, and whether the seatbelt was fastened.


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