‘How far is the law of tort ready to adapt to driverless cars?’

Bates, John (2017) ‘How far is the law of tort ready to adapt to driverless cars?’. In: TRILCon17 - 4th Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law, 3rd May 2017, Winchester, UK.

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Abstract

In its July 2016 Consultation Paper, ‘Pathway to Driverless Cars: Proposals to support advanced driver assistance systems and automated vehicle technologies’, the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport concluded:

‘We are not currently proposing any significant change in our rules on liability in road traffic accidents to reflect the introduction of automated cars. We still think a fault based approach combined with existing product liability law, rather than a new strict liability regime, is the best approach for our legal system. We think that the existing common law on negligence should largely be able to adapt to this new technology’

What impact will the evolution of driverless cars have on the application of existing common law principles of negligence of a human actor where harm is caused in a road traffic accident? Should a driver be liable for an omission to engage (or disengage) onboard automotive assistance? What standard of care is expected of a driver stepping in to take control? How far are perceptions of trust and risk relevant to a transitional phase with a mix of autonomous and non-autonomous traffic? What new risks are created by autonomous vehicles, such as reliance on third party services (such as mapping), interoperability failures with other systems (such as highway control), faults in data collection and sharing (such as telemetrics and onboard records of driver autonomy) and of cyber-security comprises (including hacked systems).

The common law of negligence is predicated on the piecemeal development of principles and their application incrementally through case law and decisions of appellate courts. That is a naturally time-consuming process, and recent reform proposals may remove many road traffic accident claims from the litigation process. Is the civil justice system equipped effectively to deal with driverless vehicles?

This presentation hopes to explore some of these issues.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2017 11:18
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2017 11:18
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/32588

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