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Two-thirds of UK motorists against driverless cars

Business Secretary Vince Cable announced plans last month (July 2014) for a £10m trial for driverless cars to go ahead in three cities and on certain roads such as motorways and in specific lanes.

However, a survey of over 1,000 motorists by car incident camera firm SmartWitness showed that 66.2% think that further checks are needed before these automated cars are allowed on public highways.

And nearly nine out of ten road users have said all autonomous vehicles should be installed with forward facing video incident cameras to show if they were at fault in the event of a collision.

But SmartWitness managing director Simon Marsh said: ‘Two-thirds of motorists said that the Government was premature in allowing driverless cars on UK roads and that more tests were needed to ensure the safety of the new technology.

‘Also there were concerns raised about liability and whether these vehicles could be insured because computer error could easily be called into question on any accident involving a driverless car. As a result nearly nine out of ten motorists called for incident cameras to be compulsory in these so-called “Robo Cars” so that there would be clear evidence of which vehicle was at fault in the event of a collision.’

According to the SmartWitness survey 79.4% of motorists felt there would be added complications to resolving insurance disputes involving driverless cars, and that computer error would always be suspected as the cause of the crash, which would make premiums considerably higher than regular vehicles.

Simon Marsh added: ‘There will be serious issues surrounding the insurance on driverless cars unless they use incident cameras that provide court admissible data. Our KP1 would be perfect for use in driverless cars because the camera provides instant notification to insurers with videos of incidents emailed in less than 60 seconds after a collision. Without this data a large number of claims with Robo Cars will be contested.’

‘We have found with normal vehicles KP1 evidence allows insurance claims to be filed in record time – significantly reducing costs, and insurers have found that just 2% of incidents recorded on SmartWitness cameras result in disputed claims – against an industry norm of 40% for all motor claims.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.