Driverless cars could rack up huge insurance bills if the outstanding legal obstacles are not smoothed out before cars are released on the road.
With the announcement of legislative support in the Queen's Speech, it opens the opportunity to have autonomous cars on British roads, with estimations of them making a huge impression by 2020.
However Claims.co.uk, an expert personal injury portal, states that the forthcoming Transport Bill could fuel a future legal bill if all the outstanding legal obstacles are not smoothed out before the cars are released on the roads.
The government's legislative programme outlined by HM the Queen in May included the Modern Transport Bill that could see driverless vehicles on our streets within four years, with the possibility of insuring them under ordinary motor policies. Claims.co.uk believe that the issue is far from ironed out.
John Quail, Managing Director of Claims.co.uk said: "The announced legislation could see us all buying and using driverless cars by 2020 but there are quite a few issues to resolve before we hand the keys to a computer - not least insurance liability when a human is not in control of a vehicle."
A recent YouGov survey has revealed that drivers are unaware on who would be held accountable should they need to make a claim against a driverless car. 33% said they wouldn't know, 28% said the owner of the driverless care would be at fault, whilst 30% said the manufacturer would be to blame.
"It is no exaggeration to say full automation would revolutionise transport," added Quail. "Those unable to drive would be given a new lease of life; there would be no excuses for drunk-driving and with more than 90 per cent of road accidents a result of human error, we could slash death rates and SMIDSY (sorry mate, I didn't see you) would become a thing of the past."
Article 8 of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968) states, "every driver shall at all times be able to control his vehicle." Since the UK never ratified this, it gives the country a head start in driverless cars.
An amendment to allow other European countries to follow the UK's lead has been tabled, but while the legislative issues are not as
unsurmountable as for others, the day to day realities of any claims and liability remain to be addressed.
Quail states: "Driverless cars have the potential to transform lifestyles and save lives. However, there could be a big financial bill to be paid if the full implications of driverless cars are not thought through in these early stages. The hope will be that driverless cars will see a fall in insurance premiums, but there's potential for fraudulent claims to increase in the short term."
He stresses the importance of any legal issues that surround driverless cars are to be established explicitly before we see them on the road.