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Transition to fully autonomous cars could bring 'false sense of security' for drivers

By / 5 years ago / Latest News / No Comments

That’s the warning from insurance experts as advances in technology mean cars can do more and more independently.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has warned that the growth in features like automatic braking and lane assistance systems may lead to drivers incorrectly thinking that they can relax while their car looks after them.

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy, said: “Autonomous driving could be the biggest breakthrough in road safety since the invention of the seatbelt and insurers fully support its development. However we need to get there safely. The growth in features like automatic braking and lane assistance systems may give drivers a false sense of security that they can relax while their car looks after them. But unless a vehicle is fully autonomous and able to respond appropriately in an emergency, drivers still have to be ready to take back control at a moment’s notice.”

Thatcham Research echoed the comments of the ABI, highlighting that from 2018 updated regulations are expected to allow some limited hands-off driving on motorways for vehicles with advanced safety systems, but in the event of something going wrong, it is likely motorists will have only seconds to respond.

Fully autonomous vehicles are only likely to be on the roads sometime after 2021, which is when drivers will be able to consider themselves completely free to do other activities behind the wheel.

Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research, said: “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to transform our roads, reducing congestion and crashes. The first truly autonomous vehicles though, where the driver is able to hand over control in a specific situation such as on the motorway, won’t be on the roads until sometime after 2021.

“In the meantime, it’s important that we do everything possible to minimise the risk of crashes. The danger is that as technology develops, and drivers become more confident, they will start to use it in conditions it has not been designed for.

“Our clear message is that until 2021, drivers need to stay on the ball and observe the rules of the road. If you’re unclear on the functionality of any feature on your car, then check with the vehicle manufacturer or dealership.”

Last week saw Volvo announce that it will launch the UK’s “biggest and most ambitious’ autonomous car driving trials from 2017.

“The medium-to-long-term impact on the insurance industry is likely to be significant. But let’s not forget the real reason for this – fewer accidents, fewer injuries, fewer fatalities. Autonomous drive technology is the single most important advance in automotive safety to be seen in recent years,” Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, will tell a seminar to be held later today (3 May) in London entitled ‘A Future with Autonomous Driving Cars – Implications for the Insurance Industry’.

The seminar will be opened by Thatcham’s Peter Shaw and will also include the ABI’s James Dalton as a keynote speaker.

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