Driverless cars threaten to be a legal nightmare, MPs warned

Driverless cars threaten to be a legal nightmare, MPs warned
MPs have been told that driverless cars stand to be a “lawyer’s dream”.

The comments were made by Labour peer Lord Campbell-Savours during a second reading of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill in the House of Lords.

Lord Campbell-Savours argued that the complex issue of liability would be “a legal nightmare” and that “lawyers would make a mint out of it”.

The draft legislation outlines plans for improved access to charging points and when insurers are liable where an accident is caused by an automated vehicle.

“The lawyers would love that one,” he added.

READ MORE: ‘Widespread scepticism’ over autonomous cars

He also described driverless car technology as “premature and probably in the main unnecessary”.

In contrast, the debate began with Transport Minister Baroness Sugg stating the UK could be at the forefront of the “latest transport” revolution if the bill is passed.

She explained: “I fully acknowledge that in the area of both automated and electric vehicles there are many areas that the Government needs to focus on, take action and invest in.

"This bill addresses just some of these issues, but taken together the measures in this bill demonstrate the readiness of the UK to be a part of this latest transport revolution - to deliver easier, cleaner and safer journeys for everyone.

"This bill is designed to put the UK on the front foot, ready to take advantage of the social and economic benefits that these technologies will bring."

Former BBC director general Lord Birt argued autonomous vehicle technology is still “embryonic” and the bill is just a “modest incremental step”, although he doesn’t doubt that our roads will be made safer by electric and autonomous vehicles in the future.

The bill will now go through a line by line examination at the Committee stage – the date for which is yet to be announced.

READ MORE: New AI system to power self-driving cars

Last year, an RAC report found two-fifths of drivers would rather see Government funding pumped into road improvements than driverless cars.

The research uncovered scepticism around the UK’s push to be at the forefront of the driverless race.

Many of those surveyed cited more pressing needs in the current economic climate, with only 5% of the 2,194 RAC Opinion Panel members asked saying investment in this area should be a priority.

Others were doubtful that autonomous driving will be a way of life in 20 years’ time.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.