The Queen’s Speech has announced plans on insuring autonomous cars to pave the way for the roll-out of the technology.
The plans form part of the new Modern Transport Bill which is intended keep the UK “at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles”.
The new laws will allow driverless cars to be insured under ordinary policies.
James Dalton, ABI director of general insurance policy, said: "Fully automated vehicles will be a safety revolution, even more so than the invention of the seatbelt. More than 90% of road accidents happen because of human error and automated technology will take a lot of the risk off the roads. Fewer accidents means fewer people killed and injured, and that should lead to cheaper insurance premiums.
Any interventions which reduce the number of road casualties has to be welcomed. However, I am not convinced that autonomous cars are the solution in the short or medium term. How likely are we to move in the next five years from becoming a society which drives to one which is driven? Whether that is social or business miles. How reliable will this new technology be and how will it prevent owners from 'chipping' their autonomous vehicles software? What about vehicles already on the road which have many millions of miles to drive over their collective life times?
Let’s not lose sight of what we can do now to manage road risk. Waiting for something which may never happen on a large scale or in the short to medium term is wasting the opportunities we have now to consider cost effective training options which raise awareness and reduces risk now, not in five or ten years time.
As a long term contribution to road safety autonomy will no doubt have an impact. But for now we can continue to work towards zero road casualties by providing driver training which raises awareness, develops eco-friendly driving techniques to reduce CO2 and increase MPG and empower managers to be able to effectively manage their organisation's road risk.