auto driven car

Auto driven cars – who is liable?

What is a self-driven car?

A self-driving car is also known as an autonomous vehicle, it was designed to aid safe driving on the roads, by reducing the input of human error.  By definition, an auto driven car is a car that can drive by itself with little or no assistance from humans. It can do this by sensing and detecting its’ surrounding environment, enabling it to drive, park, stop, and effectively detect hazards on the road. 

Autonomous vehicles are expected to be safer and reduce the input of human error, adhering to speed limits and keeping a safe distance to the car in front. With the development and evolution of the self-driving car for over 10 years now, it is becoming less and less reliant on human input. As the autonomous vehicle becomes more and more independent, one question remains intact; who is liable if an accident occurs? 

If involved in an accident during which the self-driven vehicle is at fault, professionals propose that the individuals driving the vehicles should not be held responsible. The law commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission introduced law protections to owners of self-driven vehicles if anything ever runs amiss. That would include more minor offences such as running a red light or breaking the speed limit. 

Responsibilities of the driver

The government has now determined that vehicles with ALKS technology can be classed as self-driving vehicles, as long as they receive a GB type approval and the vehicle is in good working condition without challenge to its’ ability. 

The government has also confirmed that drivers will not be required to monitor the road, or keep their hands on the wheel when the vehicle is moving. However, the driver will be requested to place their hands on the steering wheel within 10 seconds if requested. If the driver fails to do this, the car will start slowing down, put their hazard lights on, and slowly come to a safe stop. 

Drivers will not be held responsible for driving offences or dangerous driving, but they will be responsible for making sure the car is insured and everyone is wearing seatbelts.

Who is liable? 

If a self-driving car is involved in an accident, professionals state that it is the responsibility of the manufacturer of the vehicle. With more and more rules coming into place, and the way we look at self-driving technology, it is proved that self-driving vehicles are safer, as so far 85% of accidents occur due to human error. Critics have stated that the “autonomous” vehicles in place now, are not actually fully autonomous; stating that fully self-driven vehicles should not need the input of human error. As vehicles and rules evolve, the question of liability will remain in question, but truly comes down to the cause of the accident, and factors contributing to it. 

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