Driverless cars come with legal risks for drivers as it ‘remains to be seen’ who to blame


Experts have warned that it “remains to be seen” who will be liable for the blame in the event of a serious accident with legal specialists calling for “new legislation”. Experts have warned there could be cases where who is at fault is in doubt if the driver could have intervened to stop a collision.

Steven Baylis, Partner at Lime Solicitors Personal Injury Team said accidents are sometimes caused by “split-second decision making” which could change who is actually at fault for an incident.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Baylis said: “One issue the greater use of automated vehicles does pose, is who is responsible in the event an accident does occur?

“It is well established that road users owe a duty of care to each other and the courts apply the ‘reasonable person test’ to determine if an individual has been negligent when an accident occurs.

“With the advent of automated vehicles where the control is delegated to the software installed by the manufacturer, it may well be necessary to introduce new legislation to establish where fault may lie in the event of an accident.

READ MORE: Car insurance firms say new driverless technology has ‘legal issues’

Investigators looking into the fatality found that the car’s “driver”, Rafael Vasquez, had been streaming a TV show while behind the wheel.

Uber did not face charges after it was found that there was “no basis for criminal liability” against the company.

US safety officials found that human error was to blame as the driver could take over the controls and prevent the collision at any point.

The case raises interesting questions about what drivers will and will not be allowed to do when the new technology is installed in the UK.

But he warned that despite aiming to cut collisions, the recent Uber case shows that “accidents still happen”

He told Express.co.uk: “The aim of the move to automated vehicles on UK roads is to reduce by 47,000 the incidents of serious accidents over the following decade.

As can be seen from trials in the USA, even with the use of this technology, accidents still happen.

“However, given the fact that many accidents are caused or contributed to be excess speed, driver inattention or fatigue, the use of technology may well significantly reduce the number of serious accidents.

“This should therefore afford greater protection to road users, including pedestrians.”





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