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Driverless Cars. Who is Responsible?

02 Jun 2017

Driver error is responsible for over 90% of all car accidents. However, as automated driving technologies improve, theoretically the number of car accidents caused by driver error should reduce.

Driverless vehicles are now a reality. They can offer significant advantages. Potentially, they can reduce accidents, reduce road congestion by regulating the smooth flow of traffic and provide access to the traffic system to people who would otherwise be precluded, like the elderly, the disabled and even children.

But nevertheless, car accidents will continue to occur and people who are injured will need to be compensated.

Currently, CTP insurance covers drivers “at fault” for personal injury or death caused by negligent or dangerous driving. So the question arises, who’s doing the driving if a person is injured by a driverless car?

Driving involves steering, accelerating, braking and navigating to avoid other road users and obstacles. If these tasks are being undertaken by a computer, then arguably the vehicle is not being driven by a driver, and injuries caused by a driverless vehicle may not be covered by the current system of CTP insurance.

There is concern that a person injured in human driven crashes may be better off than people injured by a driverless car, because they will be covered by CTP insurance.

As driverless car technology improves, governments will need to keep an eye on existing CTP legislation to remove any doubt that the person injured by a driverless car still has access to the CTP scheme.