IUA urges caution on ALKS implementation

The International Underwriting Association (IUA) has stepped into the growing debate over the use of autonomous vehicles on the UK’s roads.

Speaking today the IUA’s CEO Dave Matcham (pic) has warned there needs to be far greater information and understanding of the limitation of the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS), that is set to be rolled out in the UK potentially in 2021.

The association has responded to the government’s calls for comments in the plans explaining drivers should not be able to take their eyes off the road when using a proposed new assisted driving system.

The technology is being examined by the Department of Transport to see whether it could be adopted as early as next year, but there are a number of safety concerns. The IUA added under the system drivers could be called upon to take over control of their vehicle and the 10 second period for them to do so may not be enough time to fully focus on the task.

Mr Matcham said: “The risk of misinformation around this new technology must be very carefully managed. It is essential that drivers are fully aware of the capabilities, limitations and their own responsibilities. Otherwise, serious dangers will arise and public confidence in the system will be undermined.

“It is paramount that a clear and robust legal and regulatory framework that prioritises safety underpins this evolving technology.”

The IUA added it supports the roll out of automated vehicles which have the potential to reduce traffic accidents and greatly improve road safety. However, it added that ALKS cannot be considered as automated driving. It should instead be considered a form of driver assistance technology where the driver must remain engaged with the driving task at all times and be prepared to take back control.

The IUA has also called for vehicle data to be made available to insurers to ensure that liability can be apportioned and claims paid quickly.

Mr Matcham added: “Access to data is essential for insurers to properly analyse and quantify risks, and ultimately pay claims. Information such as the status of any automated driving system around the time of an accident and any camera footage will be important for ensuring that drivers are not held unduly responsible when the technology is at fault.”