Smart Transport

Mercedes to accept liability for autonomous vehicle technology crashes

Mercedes DrivePilot

Mercedes has confirmed it will accept liability in cases where a crash is caused by a fault with its Level 3 Automated Lane Keeping System.

However, the carmaker will not accept liability if the driver has "failed to comply with their duty of care".

Its new Drive Pilot system has been approved for us on German highways and can control the cars steering, acceleration and brakes at speed up to 40mph.

Drive Pilot will be initially offered on the S-Class and EQS, as an option, in German Markets. Mercedes also plans to introduce the technology in US markets, once it gains approval.

Matthew Avery, chief research strategy officer at Thatcham Research, said: “The issue of liability in automated vehicles is complex and nuanced. It’s too crude to suggest that the carmaker should be liable in all circumstances; there will be times when an accident is and isn’t the carmaker’s responsibility.

“What is apparent in the case of Mercedes, the first to have approval – albeit in Germany – for technology that will allow drivers to disengage and do other things, is that when the automated system is in control, the carmaker will be liable.

“What’s less straightforward is an accident that occurs when the driver has failed “to comply with their duty of care”, for example when refusing to retake control of the car when prompted.

“It will be incumbent on carmakers to ensure drivers of their cars are confident, comfortable and have a strong grasp of their legal responsibilities – which in the UK would be in accordance with the Road Traffic Act. Absolute clarity is required for drivers in terms of their legal obligations behind the wheel and their understanding of how the system operates, especially during a handover from system to driver.

“This is challenged by the fact that a driver can take a long time to come back ‘into the loop’ after extended periods of effectively being chauffeured by the system.

“Insurance claims will require scrutiny, so the provision of data to help insurers understand who was in control of the vehicle at the time of an accident, system or driver, will also be vital.

“Trust will diminish if confusion reigns and drawn-out legal cases become common, hampering adoption of the technology and the realisation of its many societal benefits.”

The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have published a joint report, making recommendations for the safe and responsible introduction of self-driving vehicles.

Under the Law Commissions’ proposals, when a car is authorised by a regulatory agency as having “self-driving features” and those features are in-use, the person in the driving seat would no longer be responsible for how the car drives. Instead, the company or body that obtained the authorisation - typically the vehicle manufacturer should face regulatory sanctions if anything goes wrong.

The report recommends introducing a new Automated Vehicles Act, to regulate vehicles that can drive themselves and suggests that a clear distinction should be made between features which just assist drivers, such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self-driving.

Thatcham Research is currently leading the development of a consumer safety rating to support the safe adoption of Automated Driving Systems. Funded by government organisation Zenzic and in co-operation with Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) Testbed partners, the rating will give UK motorists and insurers greater clarity around relative performance and safe use of automated technology.

Our next event: register now

Smart Transport Conference November 22 LondonRegister today for our November 2022 conference

SAVE THE DATE – the next Smart Transport Conference will take place on November 22 at etc.venues, London.

25% discount until 31 May. Book now to reserve your place.

This a must-attend event for anyone who wants to understand how the public and private sectors can work together to achieve transport policy.

2021 conference

Register to attend



Comment as guest


Login  /  Register

Comments

No comments have been made yet.

Related content




Office Address
  • Smart Transport
    Media House
    Lynch Wood
    Peterborough
    PE2 6EA
Join the community
  • Smart Transport is the UK's most important brand to bring together senior public policy makers and influential private sector leaders to showcase real-time solutions aligned to government policy.
  •  
  • Find out more
  • Insight
  •  

 

Welcome to Smart Transport

Welcome to the Smart Transport website, keeping you up-to-date with the latest news, insight and reports from policymakers and thought leaders.

The Smart Transport brand connects policy to solutions by bringing national government and local authority policymakers together with private sector organisations.

Contact Lindsay Greatbatch for more information.

© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd
Media House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA - Registered number 01176085 IPSO regulated logo

 

Smart Transport members

Smart Transport board members

 

Please note:
By submitting any material to us you are confirming that the material is your own original work or that you have permission from the copyright owner to use the material and to authorise Bauer Consumer Media to use it as described in this paragraph. You also promise that you have permission from anyone featured or
referred to in the submitted material to it being used by Bauer Consumer Media. If Bauer Consumer Media receives a claim from a copyright owner or a person
featured in any material you have sent us, we will inform that person that you have granted us permission to use the relevant material and you will be responsible for paying any amounts due to the copyright owner or featured person and/or for reimbursing Bauer Consumer Media for any losses it has suffered as a result.