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Britain Lays Down Rules For Car Insurance Companies and Autonomous Cars

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【Summary】The UK government has laid out a few rules for autonomous cars in a new bill called the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill. The bill outlines how insurance companies will need to offer two different types of insurance plans for drivers and other rules surrounding self-driving vehicles.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 01, 2017 2:15 PM PT
Britain Lays Down Rules For Car Insurance Companies and Autonomous Cars

Ever since automakers and companies introduced the technology behind autonomous cars, the question of how governments will keep the vehicles in check still remains unanswered. As of right now in the United States, individual states can require automakers and companies to meet certain regulations when it comes to self-driving cars. That's why Uber turned to Arizona after getting turned down by California. Britain, though, is a little different from the U.S. and has just come out with a bill to keep self-driving cars and their owners in check. 

New Bill Emphasizes Clean Air And Safety

As reported by Engadget, the Queen's Speech in 2016 included a "Modern Transport Bill" that laid out what the country needed to support autonomous cars. The government has worked on the document and come out with a final bill that is called the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill. 

In the new bill, the UK government outlines a number of proposals on how it wants to ensure that self-driving cars are safe on the road and still have the proper backing to grow. The bill proposes that new rules be put in place that would require gas stations, like Shell, to become more environmentally friendly by adding more charging points for electric and hydrogen vehicles. Having more places to charge one's electric car is clearly another incentive that the UK wants to offer owners of clean-air vehicles. More importantly, though, is the bill's plans for insurance companies. 

According to Engadget, the bill will require insurance companies in the UK to cover both the driver when he or she is manually in control of the vehicle, as well as when the cars is driving itselft without any help from a driver.  As the BBC reports, the idea behind requiring insurance companies to have two types of policies is to ensure that victims involved in an accident can easily claim compensation if the vehicle is driving autonomously. 

"This will mean innocent victims involved in a collision with an automated vehicle will have quick and easy access to compensation," stated the UK government in a press release.

When Is The Driver At Fault?

The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill also clearly defines when the driver, even if the vehicle is in its autonomous mode, is at fault for an accident. As Engadget points out, if the owner of a self-driving vehicle has modified the software on their car or failed to get important updates installed, they may be held responsible for any damages. The Secretary of State will decide which vehicles are covered by the new laws, claims the outlet. 

"Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive," said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. "But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and today we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies." 

Fully autonomous cars may still be a few years away, but the UK has taken a crucial step towards laying out how it hopes to regulate the vehicles when they arrive. While the bill still has to make its way through Parliament where third parties and ministers will be able to share their thoughts on the proposed rules, it gets people talking about ways the UK can prepare for the upcoming rise in self-driving cars. 

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