UK government introduces new measures for autonomous vehicle insurance and EV infrastructure

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The UK government has introduced new insurance rules for self-driving cars and measures to improve provision of electric vehicle (EV) charge points, as part of its Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, which is intended to help the country become a world leader in these technologies.

The new measures around insurance for self-driving cars aim to break down some of the barriers that could limit companies from testing them in the UK, and will ensure better protection for road users, as a single insurance product for automated vehicles will now be able to cover both the motorist when they are driving, as well as the car when it is in automated mode. This will mean that innocent victims involved in a collision with an automated vehicle will have quick and easy access to compensation. The measures follow a consultation by the Department for Transport (DfT) on the issue of insurance for self-driving cars that closed in September 2016. The Secretary of State will be given the power to classify which vehicles are ‘automated’ and subject to the new insurance requirement.

Chris Grayling, the UK Transport Secretary, said, “Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive. But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident, and we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies.”

David Williams, head of underwriting at the AXA UK insurance company, commented, “This is a positive step forward that provides clarity to insurers to ensure we design our products appropriately. It keeps protection of the general public at its heart, which we hope will encourage early adoption of some really impressive technology. The vast majority of accidents are caused by human error and we see automated vehicles having a massive impact, reducing the number and severity of accidents. As well as making our roads safer, insurance premiums are based on the cost of claims, and therefore we expect substantially reduced premiums to follow.”

Other measures set out in the Bill will mean easier access to infrastructure for EVs, as motorway services and large fuel retailers could be made to provide charge points and hydrogen refueling stations under planned new laws. The measures could also make sure data about the location and availability of charging stations is openly available, and make it easier to use the different networks which are available.

John Hayes, Minister of State for Transport, said, “If we are to accelerate the use of electric vehicles we must take action now and be ready to take more action later. I recognize that to encourage more drivers to go electric, the infrastructure needs to become even more widespread than the 11,000 charging points already in place and more straightforward. We are determined to do all we can to make electric vehicles work for everyone, and these new laws will help make this a reality.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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