Celent Says

Is Tort Law a Roadblock for Driverless Cars?

Donald Light
Insurance Experts' Forum, December 26, 2013

In the December 17 Wall Street Journal, a column by Holman Jenkins, “Will Tort Law Kill Driverless Cars?” makes two arguments. First, the complexity of software required for driverless cars is a lawsuit that is waiting to be won by the personal injury/class action bar. And second that the potential size of auto manufacturers’ legal losses will likely halt the rollout of driverless cars.

Driverless cars do require a combination of software, hardware, and communication devices. Deploying, integrating, and in some cases inventing these components is a work-in-progress. Equally challenging will be the human/machine interface — who/what takes or yields control under which circumstances? For example, if a car must swerve into the path of a large truck in order to avoid hitting a pedestrian, is that a human decision or machine decision — and is it decided in real time or in the factory?

These are real questions. But there are multiple constituencies that have economic incentives to create the answers: manufacturers, owner/operators of driverless cars, local and national governments, and not least the insurance industry. Even the personal injury/class action bar is better off in a world of future technology that creates continuing opportunities for legal actions.

Tort and liability issues will flash a yellow go-slow light for driverless cars for years — but will not shut down the road altogether.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

Donald Light is a senior analyst in Celent's insurance practice, and can be reached at dlight@celent.com.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Donald using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

Data Governance in Insurance Carriers

As the insurance industry moves into a more data-centric world, data governance becomes more critical for ensuring the data is consistent, reliable and usable for analysis.

Fear This

Just days before this Issue, which contains our security cover story, went to press, we got some interesting news: 1.2 billion unique usernames and passwords and 542 million email addresses were reportedly stolen from 420,000 websites, according to The New York Times. The websites ranged from Fortune 500 companies down to small online retailers.

Should You Back Up Enterprise Data to the Cloud?

Six questions that need to be asked before signing on with an outside service.

Modernizing Information Management

While better reporting and actuarial analysis help to support financial decisions, improved analytics and decision making greatly assist the rest of the organization.

5 Strategies to Change the Game

Allstate's director of technology and operations says disruptive innovation has the power to completely change industries — ours included.

Strategic Planning: Here and Now

Insurers’ annual strategic planning efforts can benefit from an infusion of tactical reality.