Self-driving cars to blame in accidents says new UK Bill
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Ministers hope if the bill is passed it will put the UK at the forefront of technology
In a bid to ensure that self-driving cars are safe when they hit the roads, the UK government has put together a new proposal.
The proposal states that insurance cover for self-driving cars must offer protection for both times when the driver is in control, and when the car is in autonomous mode.
Ministers hope that if the bill is passed, it will put the UK at the forefront of the modern transport revolution.
The measures are outlined by the government in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, which was created to ensure accident victims can easily claim compensation if a crash occurs when a car is in autonomous mode.
Insurers could still try to recover the costs from the vehicles' makers. But the bill has two important exemptions.
Firstly, if a vehicle's owner has made unauthorised changes to the car's software, and secondly if they fail to install an update that their policy asks them to, then the driver becomes liable.
The bill, which applies to England, Wales and Scotland, has been welcomed by the insurance industry.
Speaking to the BBC, Ben Howarth, a senior policy adviser at the Association of British Insurers, said: "It demonstrates the government's clear commitment to moving forward when it comes to automated vehicles."
"As an industry, we want to keep insurance as straightforward as possible, which is why insurers proposed the simple approach which the government is now taking forward."
While self-driving cars are already being tested on UK roads, many car companies predict that it could be up to 10 years before autonomous vehicles are sold to the general public.
But if the bill is passed, it could move this prediction forwards. The bill states: 'It will enable consumers in the United Kingdom to be amongst the first in the world to reap the rewards that improved transport technology will bring.'
'Putting the United Kingdom at the forefront of the most modern transport revolution will create new jobs and fuel economic growth around the country.'
As well as providing suggestions on insurance, the bill also touches on electric charging technology. The bill suggests that petrol stations and large retailers should offer electric charging points. And it indicates that car charging point operators should be forced to publish details of their prices, opening hours and locations to users.