Advanced driver assistance systems and automated vehicle technologies: supporting their use in the UK

What are we proposing?

1a. Do you agree with the proposal to review the regulatory framework to enable the use of advanced driver assistance systems and advanced vehicle technologies as they come to the market in the UK?

Yes

Why?

Brake recognises the potential of advanced driver assistance systems in potentially significantly reducing road deaths and serious injuries in the future, bringing us one step closer to Vision Zero. However, we would suggest that there needs to be a review of the regulatory framework in order to develop legislation that will effectively match the rapid development of these new systems, ensuring that they can and will be integrated safety and legally onto our road network, reducing the risk posed to road users unfamiliar and inexperienced with this new technology.

Brake suggests that by reviewing the UK’s regulatory framework, the DfT will be able to promote the safe and sustainable use of advanced driver assistance systems and advanced vehicle technologies, while simultaneously providing a support network for victims within the insurance market, if a road crash does take place.

1b. Do you agree that we should follow a rolling programme of regulatory reviews?

Yes

Why?

Brake strongly supports a robust, rolling programme of regulatory reviews of the UK’s automotive sector, especially during the early stages of integration for driver assistance systems. The automotive industry is currently one of the biggest global investors in research and development and it is impossible to know, at this point, which direction this will lead advanced vehicle technologies. A rolling system of review is necessary to ensure that solutions to future dangers, which may not even be considered at this early stage, are accounted for within the UK’s legislative framework.

Brake advocates speed and proficiency in the government’s response to this technological rapid development, which has been fuelled by international interest and capital. In order to reap the safety benefits of the new driver assistance systems and automated vehicle technology, the UK must have up-to-date and effective legislation in place; an objective that can only be met through frequently schedules regulatory reviews.

1c. In the first wave of regulatory change, with the exception of insurance, should we only consider those advanced driver assistance systems or automated vehicle technologies that are likely to come to the UK market in the next 2-4 years?

No

Why?

Brake would not support the consultation document’s proposal to restrict the first wave of regulatory change to advanced driver assistance systems or automated vehicle technologies that are likely to emerge onto the UK market in the next two to four years. This timescale would risk limiting the DfT’s ability to respond safely and effectively to new innovations in vehicle design, which may not have been expected within the two to four year window but were, in fact, developed ahead of schedule. This limitation could place road users at risk if regulatory frameworks have yet to be enacted which could have protected them from a significant technological fault or system failure that could have been anticipated with a review closer to the date of release.

Simultaneously, Brake recommends that the DfT carefully monitors technological developments within the automotive industry. By carrying out a longer term review of the systems and innovations progressing within the automotive sector, along with a potential timescale for their release onto the public market, the DfT would have a simple overview to guide its regulatory reviews over a significant period of time. This would ensure that the UK’s regulatory framework is not overtaken by the technology it seeks to manage, helping keep drivers and other road users around them safe on a day-to-day basis.  

1d. Are you aware of any upcoming advanced driver assistance systems or automated vehicle technologies which this document does not cover?

N/A

Which systems?

N/A

Insurance

2a. Do you agree with the proposition to amend road vehicle compulsory insurance primary legislation in Part 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to include product liability for automated vehicles?

Yes

Why?

Brake would argue that product liability insurance is a necessity for autonomous vehicles and for those drivers who may be unfortunate enough to experience a crash involving this new technology. The development of autonomous vehicles is a high interest and high cost endeavour for manufacturers and there is a significant risk for those investing in the new technology. There needs to be a means by which road crash victims can secure appropriate redress without needing to prove negligence or rely on exiting legal provisions

2b. What, if any, other changes to the insurance framework should be considered to support the use of AVT? Why?

N/A

2c. If you are an insurer, vehicle manufacturer or other organisation directly affected by these changes, what costs do you estimate your organisation will incur as a direct result of these changes?

N/A

2d. Do you anticipate the cost of insurance products for vehicles with AVT to be higher than for conventional vehicles?

Yes

How much and Why?

In the short term, Brake anticipates that the cost of insurance products for vehicles with advanced vehicle technologies will be higher than it is for conventional vehicle, though we are currently unsure of how much higher it will be. This difference will likely be incurred due to a combination of increased risk due to initial uncertainty relating to new technology – in terms of reliability and trust. Currently, the advanced vehicle technologies have yet to be proven on an extended public road network and insurers will rightly be wary of how well they perform when integrating with an already busy transport system.

Research suggests that during the early stages of integration, when advanced vehicle technologies are being introduced to the UK market, there will be a period of heightened risk (Preuk et.al; 2016). This increased risk is likely to result from the coexistence of two differing driving systems on a single road network without segregation. Experts have suggested that it will be difficult for those driving conventional cars to predict the reactions of autonomous vehicles, while autonomous systems will have difficulty predicting human behaviour and errors.

However, Brake anticipates that in the long run insurance costs will fall as advanced vehicle technologies prove their reliability and other road users learn to adapt to their patterns of behaviour. Furthermore, it is possible that there will be significant reductions in road casualties due to the presence of driver assistance systems like autonomous emergency braking, which could encourage insurers to further reduce the cost of their products for autonomous vehicles.

2e. Do you anticipate the introduction of vehicles with AVT to increase insurance premiums for conventional vehicles?

Yes

Why?

In the short term, Brake predicts that insurance premiums of conventional vehicles will increase with the introduction of advanced vehicle technologies. This difference will likely be as a reaction to the risk of combining two differing driving systems on a single road network without any means of segregation. Insurers will likely seek to pre-empt the potential rise of road crashes that this merger could engender by raising the standard premium of conventional road users.

However, Brake anticipates that the time-frame will be significant to the insurance premiums being paid by conventional drivers. As time passes there should, theoretically, be fewer collisions – with new technologies adapting to other road users and proving themselves safe and reliable, and conventional drivers learning to adapt to these new road users and adjusting their driving style accordingly.

2f. What do you estimate the costs will be to insurers, vehicle manufacturers, other parties of providing liability cover for automated vehicles? And why?

N/A

2g. Do you anticipate that this cost will be passed on to the consumer?

N/A

Why, and by how much?

N/A

Failure to maintain automated vehicle technology, inappropriate use, and circumventing automated vehicle technology

2h. Do you agree that where a driver attempts to circumvent the automated vehicle technology, or fails to maintain the automated vehicle technology, the insurer should be able to exclude liability to the driver but not to any third parties who are injured as a result?

Yes

Why?

Brake would agree with the consultation document’s proposal to provide insurers with the opportunity to penalise drivers who deliberately circumvent or fail to maintain the automated vehicle technology should a road crash occur. By choosing to step outside the safety frameworks developed for these vehicles, designed to protect both the driver and the general public, the driver is placing lives at risk. In order to discourage such behaviour, the option to penalise should be embedded into the insurance system, along with legal penalties to discourage law-breaking and dangerous behaviour.

However, Brake would argue that insurers should only be able to exclude liability in so far as it is reasonable to do so. The situation that circumvents the safety systems might not result from malicious actions and could be a consequence of genuine attempts to repair electrical goods. In the future, as autonomous vehicles become more common, repair issues may no longer be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer, and the government should remember this within its legislation.

As a road safety charity that provides specialist, government-funded support to road crash victims, Brake would strongly support the caveat that liability will still be provided to third parties affected by the negligence and law-breaking behaviour of the driver. The consequences of road crashes can be devastating and third parties should not be penalised on a technicality.

Third-party hacking

2i. Do you agree that in the event of 3rd party hacking of an automated vehicle, an insurer should not be able to exclude liability, as set out in the Consultation document?

Yes

Why?

Brake would strongly agree that in the event of a third party hacking an automated vehicle, the insurance company should not be able to exclude liability. In such a situation the driver is nothing more than a victim of a malicious act, and rather than a failing of the driver it is a failure of the manufacturer and the insurance company must be obliged to treat it as such. The motor industry and their software designers are better placed than any other to protect their product against malicious hacking and it is their responsibility to do so, providing software updates where necessary. Consequently, they should be held as the responsible party for any failure to take reasonable care.

Furthermore, the hacker is engaged in theft and being a victim of criminal behaviour should not compromise a driver’s right to be compensated by their insurance company. As long as the driver maintained the vehicle as capably as possible, there is no reason that insurers should be able to penalise them.

Product liability and automated vehicles

2j. Do you agree that the product liability and insurance requirements for automated vehicles should?

Follow the normal rules on product liability with different rules depending on whether the injured party was an individual or a company? 

Be limited by the ‘state of the art’ defence, as set down in the Consultation document? 

N/A

Why?

N/A

2k. Alternatively, should we extend insurance/liability rules specifically for automated vehicles?

N/A

Why?

N/A

Public sector vehicles

2l. Do you agree with the proposal that, with respect to automated vehicles, that the public sector can continue to self-insure, but, where they choose to self-insure, they would then be required to step into the insurers position in respect of product liability damages?

N/A

Why?

N/A

An alternative option: a first party insurance model

2m. Do you agree that an alternative first party model option would not be proportional while automated vehicles represent a small proportion of the fleet?

N/A

Why?

N/A

2n. What do you anticipate the cost of implementing a first party insurance model would be?

N/A

Next steps

2o. Do you have data to support your answers on insurance for automated vehicles?

N/A

Highway Code and construction and use regulations

ADAS guidance

3a. What are your views on amending the text of the Highway Code in a way that would clarify rule:

Rule 150 

Brake would agree with the consultation proposal to update Rule 150 of the Highway Code to include explanations of advanced driver assistance systems, motorway assist and remote control parking, along with advice on how they should be used effectively.

UK’s road traffic legislation continues to maintain relevance to the safety implications of changing modern technology and it is vital to embed safety protocols into the Highway Code. This approach will ensure that the UK’s road traffic legislation does not become dangerous or out-dated.

Rule 160 

Brake would support the amendment of Rule 160 of the Highway Code, which states that drivers must have ‘both hands on the wheel wherever possible’, to clarify the position for using the in-the-loop motorway assist and remote control or automated parking. These technologies are designed to facilitate the removal of the hands from the wheel for short periods, during which their attention is monitored and the Highway Code should be adjusted to account for this.

However, Brake would make it clear within the amendment that this rule does not give the driver the right to undertake non-driving tasks that could reduce their ability to control the vehicle safely while their hands are away from the wheel.

Enabling platooning

3b. Do you agree with the proposition to allow platooning by relaxing Highway Code rule 126 (recommending 2 second gap between vehicles?

No

Why?

Brake would disagree with the consultation proposal to relax Highway Code Rule 126, which recommends a two-second gap between vehicles on the road. Although the consultation states that by employing a system that can brake simultaneously with the vehicle in front, the two second rule becomes an arbitrary safety measure, Brake would argue that much more research is required into platooning before the amendment is considered.

Research has also revealed the risk that drivers of conventional vehicles could start to mimic the behaviour of the connected convoy, without the benefit of technological assistance to react to the vehicle in front (Gouy, 2013). This could lead to an increase in road deaths, as human error is already a factor in 90% of road deaths.

Platooning systems would allow for a two second gap to be programmed into their software. To choose not to do so would constitute an avoidable and unnecessary risk at this stage of development. We have no idea what sort of problems could arise from platooning on a nationwide scale and until we have a better picture of what problems may emerge, rule 126 should be left unaltered.  

3c. What, if any, other restrictions should be considered regarding the use of platooning technologies and why?

Brake would suggest that the DfT considers severely restricting the number of vehicles within a platoon, limiting the lane positioning and assigning time preferences for platooning activity on the road. Each of these suggested restrictions has road safety benefits that should be built into the road traffic legislation at an early stage to reduce the risks of platooning. 

By restricting the number of vehicles in a platoon, the government could reduce the risk of overcrowding on the roads. Lengthy chains of heavy goods vehicles using major motorways could block exits and access routes to a dangerous degree, potentially blocking the emergency services or leading to excessive queuing and potentially aggressive behaviour from other drivers. By restricting the number of vehicles, the length of these convoys can be significantly reduced and carefully managed to ensure this does not occur.

By clarifying the position of the platoons on multi-lane roads (e.g. motorways) the DfT could ensure that there are lanes left clear to other vehicles, which could otherwise be blocked by convoys following the same routes at the same, potentially restrictive, speed.

Finally, assigning time restrictions is a beneficial means of achieving the best results from the new advanced driver assistance systems. By ensuring that the platoons can only be active during a period of low congestion (i.e. night-time driving) the government could minimise the risk of traffic disruption to other road users.

Freeing the driver to make use of the automated vehicle

3d. Do you agree with the proposition that specific and implied driver distraction restrictions are not relaxed at this time?

Yes

Why?

Brake agrees with the consultation’s proposition to not relax any of the existing restrictions on driver distraction, specific or implied. We would argue that currently there is not enough evidence to support this move and in doing so the government would only place road users at risk.

With an ever-increasing array of in-vehicle technology becoming available on the UK market, driver distraction is becoming a growing issue as legislation struggles to keep up with the ‘infotainment’ systems being manufactured. In a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists in 2015, 77% of respondents were of the opinion that driver distraction had increased over the past three years, while government statistics for 2014 claimed that 3,200 road crashes were due to driver distraction from something within the vehicle. As we are currently uncertain of the definitive safety benefits of advanced vehicle technologies, it would be unwise for the government to relax these restrictions until the safety implications of in-car entertainment (in driverless vehicles) are fully understood and properly addressed.   

Construction and use regulations

3e. Do you agree with the proposed approach to enable remote control parking by clarifying:

Regulation 104

Yes

Regulation 107

No

Regulation 110

No

Why?

Brake would support the DfT’s proposal to add a statement to Regulation 104, that a driver meets the requirement to be in a position to control the vehicle at all times without being behind the wheel, using a hand-held device. The update is accurate and clear, and could provide access for drivers with limited mobility and a safer means to operate large vehicles or mobile transporters.

However, Brake would not agree with the proposed approach to enabling remote controlled parking by clarifying Highway Code rules 107 and 110. Current published evidence is insufficient to support these changes that lack the support of embedded safety practices designed to prevent road casualties.

The proposed update of Regulation 107 would make an individual, not present in the driving seat, legally able to park the vehicle via a hand-held device. This is a dangerous alteration of policy as drivers would be unable to secure the handbrake effectively or ensure that the engine is completely switched off through a hand-held device. This could have potentially deadly consequences if the vehicle is left unattended for any period of time.

The proposed update to Regulation 110 states that the prohibition of the use of hand-held mobile communications devices does not apply to those remotely driving their vehicle. This is an unsafe proposition as driving remains a concentration-based task, whether it is behind the wheel or via a hand-held device. A mobile communications device can still significantly distract a driver even if they are not behind the wheel and therefore the risk of the car being involved in a road crash will increase significantly.

Motorway assist

3f. What are your views on amending regulation 109 to allow drivers to view TV/display screens displaying information that is not related to the driving task while driving?

Brake strongly disagrees with the consultation’s proposal that the DfT amends regulation 109 to allow drivers to view TV/display screens showing information unrelated to the driving task while driving the vehicle. Although the amendment is intended to lay the groundwork for the benefits of advanced vehicle technologies, it represents a significant danger to the driver and other road users.

In 2014, government figures showed that in-vehicle distraction was the contributory factor in 3,200 road crashes in conventional vehicles. If the DfT amends regulation 109 and allows the use of TVs or display screens for tasks unrelated to driving, it runs the risk of placing too much confidence in the new technology without establishing safety practices or evidence on a nationwide scale.

Brake would argue that the advanced vehicle technologies are not yet sufficiently well-established or tested to have built-up a robust data-set that would support the amendment of regulation 109 without placing the driver and those around them at risk. Therefore, at present, until robust evidence to support such an amendment is widely available, we should avoid placing such a high degree of trust in untested and unreliable technologies.

Benefits and impacts of ADAS

3g. Do you have any data or evidence of the safety benefits of these advanced driver assistance systems?

N/A

3h. Are there any other, non-safety, impacts (including costs) of ADAS, which we have not covered in the consultation document?

N/A

3i. Please supply any data to support your answers

N/A