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Driverless car crashes: Who takes the blame?

Industry news

London - Owners of driverless cars could be wrongly blamed for a crash even if the technology is at fault, UK insurers have warned. The Association of British Insurers on Tuesday called for new legislation forcing carmakers to collect key data which can be used after an accident to quickly establish whether the driver or the car was to blame.

The insurance lobby group insisted underwriters should be able to recover costs from the vehicle’s manufacturer when technology fails, helping to keep premiums down for motorists.

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The data requested by insurers would cover from 30 seconds before to 15 seconds after an accident.

It would include a record from the car’s satellite navigation system of the time and location of the accident, confirmation of whether the vehicle was in autonomous or manual mode, whether the driver’s seat was occupied, and whether the seatbelt was fastened.

Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, said the data “would offer public reassurance by protecting motorists from being blamed if something fails with their car.”

Many of the world’s biggest car manufacturers and technology giants – including Ford, Nissan and Google – are rushing to develop the first fully automated car. They are expected to be on sale and on the roads by 2020.

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