Committees Active on This Topic

Additional Resources

Autonomous Vehicle Information Library
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)

Background on: Self-driving cars and insurance
July 2018, III Insurance Information Institute

Autonomous Vehicles|Self-Driving Vehicles Enacted Legislation
June 2018, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index
January 2018, KPMG

Automated Vehicles - Comprehensive Plan Could Help DOT Address Challenges
November 2017, U.S. GAO

Issues in Autonomous Vehicle Deployment
Congressional Research Service, September 2017

Examining accident reports involving autonomous vehicles in California
Public Library of Science (PLOS), September 2017

Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions: Implications for Transport Planning
July 2017, Victoria Transport Policy Institute

The Chaotic Middle: The autonomous vehicle and disruption in automobile insurance
June 2017, KPMG

The Numbers Don't Lie: Self-Driving Cars Are Getting Good
February 2017, Wired

Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030: One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence
September 2016, Stanford University

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution in Roadway Safety
September 2016, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

Vehicle Cybersecurity: DOT and Industry Have Efforts Under Way, but DOT Needs to Define Its Role in Responding to a Real-world Attack  
Government Accountability Office (GAO), March 2016

Regulatory Issues Related to Autonomous Vehicles
2016, Journal of Insurance Regulation

Self-Driving Cars: Disruptive or Incremental?
June 2015, Applied Innovation Review, UC Berkeley

Are we ready for Self-Driving Cars?
January 2013, CIPR Newsletter

PA Tightens Autonomous Vehicle Testing Guidelines
August 2019, Automotive Fleet

Autonomous Cars Due For A Slowdown
August 2018, Luxury Coach & Transportation

Who's Winning the Self-Driving Car Race?
May 2018, Fortune


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Self-Driving Cars

Last Updated 9/10/18

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),"autonomous" or "self-driving" vehicles are those in which operation of the vehicle occurs without direct driver input to control the steering, acceleration, and braking and are designed so that the driver is not expected to constantly monitor the roadway while operating in self-driving mode. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers predict that 75% of cars on the roads in the world will be autonomous by 2040. Moreover, a 2012, KPMG Study foresees self-driving cars hitting showrooms in 2019.

Google® is the pioneer in autonomous driving technology. In 2005, Google established a team of engineers, led by Sebastian Thrun, who developed a robotic vehicle that won a contest sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Since 2009, Google (now Waymo), has been testing-driving autonomous vehicles on public roads, traveling more than 8 million miles, in over 25 U.S. cities. According to previous crash reports, Waymo cars have been in numerous minor accidents, but only one accident in 2016, was reported to be the fault of Google's self-driving car. In 2017, the company removed monthly accidents reports from their site and will no longer be publicly available.

Google believes that self-driving cars can make driving more efficient and safer by eliminating distracted driving and other human error. According to NHTSA, 3,450 fatalities in 2016 were crashes involving distracted drivers. The largest age group of drivers reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes were teenage drivers 15 to 19 years old.

As excitement and momentum for self-driving cars grows, there are numerous insurance questions that will need to be addressed before such vehicles take the road. For example: What happens if a self-driving car gets into an accident? Who is liable for the damages? Will the human "copilot" be at fault or will the car's manufacturer? Will the 'driver' have to maintain a constant vigil on the road ahead at all times? What are they allowed to do inside the vehicle…can they nap, read a book or text message while the car does all the navigating? Will they even need a driver's license? A 2017 KMPG report highlights the "chaotic middle" the auto insurance industry is facing in this new period.

There is also a long list of safety and legal issues to iron out before self-driving cars hit the road. In September 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presented, Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety, as part of U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) multimodal efforts to support the safe introduction of automation technologies. In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released the Comprehensive Management Plan for Automated Vehicle Initiatives as a response to the requirements in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Omnibus Bill) signed into law on March 23, 2018, directing the (DOT) to conduct research on the development of Automated Vehicles (AV).

Currently, twenty-nine states have enacted legislation related to autonomous vehicles. Getting the technology to make the vehicles is only half the challenge; the other half will be creating a legal, liability and regulatory framework to govern their use on public streets.

Waymo continues to be the industry leader in driverless technology, and recently announced, it was adding an additional 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its current fleet of 600, already on the road -with plans to launch its first driverless commercial ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area later this year.