Traffic accidents of self-driving cars, who is responsible?

Traffic accidents of self-driving cars, who is responsible?

Traffic accidents of self-driving cars, who is responsible?

‘Autonomous driving’ can be said to be a symbol of the future mobility industry. Level 2 to 2.5 self-driving technologies have already been commercialized, making our driving life more convenient. We are now looking at fully autonomous driving at level 4 or higher, with no human driver intervention at all.

Now that the involvement of 'human drivers' is gradually decreasing, changes in liability and insurance systems for accidents are required. How should self-driving cars deal with accidents that cannot be avoided? Does a human occupant need to be a 'driver'? What about unmanned vehicles? Today, we have summarized what discussions are being made regarding autonomous driving accidents and what else to think about.

Autonomous driving is slowly permeating our daily lives. In Seoul, self-driving buses are operating around Cheonggyecheon and the Blue House. It still operates at low speed for safety, and in an emergency or in some sections, the on-board safety manager (driver) intervenes in driving, so it cannot be considered fully autonomous driving. However, it is meaningful in that self-driving technology is being used in earnest even in public transportation.

Now that the commercialization of self-driving technology is progressing rapidly, if an autonomous vehicle causes a traffic accident, what will be the responsibility? In the United States in 2018, Uber's self-driving car killed a pedestrian, and the test run of the self-driving car was suspended. Earlier this year, the Tesla Model S crashed into a fire truck and killed the driver. There was also interest in what caused this accident.

In particular, the Uber self-driving car fatal accident attracted a lot of attention in that it was the first self-driving car fatal accident. Recently, a U.S. court sentenced the driver who boarded the self-driving vehicle to be guilty, drawing attention to the traffic accident and liability of autonomous vehicles again.

In the case of Korea, it is expected that level 3 autonomous driving, in which the driver can partially let go of the steering wheel, will be commercialized within this year, and questions about accident responsibility and insurance processing continue. Last year, the financial authorities unveiled special insurance contracts exclusively for level 3 self-driving cars in accordance with the 'Automobile Damage Compensation Guarantee Act', raising expectations for insurance companies to launch new insurance products.

In situations below the current commercialized level 2 autonomous driving, the driver's intervention is essential, that is, the human driver is the driving force, so the current system can be maintained.

However, in level 3 autonomous driving, where the driver intervenes only when the system requests driver intervention, and in levels 4 to 5, where the system can cope with dangerous situations and does not require driver intervention (unmanned autonomous driving), the subject of responsibility and negligence Opinions differ on the ratio. It is expected that determining the cause of an accident by examining various conditions, such as whether the driver was involved at the time of the accident and whether there was a system error, will be an important issue in assigning responsibility for the accident.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport also announced in a press release in May of last year that it would push for revision of the safety standards for level 3 autonomous vehicles. In the amendment, ▲clear and specific method for disabling autonomous driving ▲improvement of driving switch request standards ▲clarification of emergency operation conditions ▲improvement of autonomous driving system operation notification method ▲regulations for automatically shutting down video devices when autonomous driving is discontinued It seems that there will be a change in the system.

The Insurance Research Institute is constantly announcing research reports on these self-driving car accidents. In the report titled ‘Issues and challenges of self-driving vehicle insurance’ published by Hwang Hyun-ah, member of the Insurance Research Institute in June, there was an opinion that it is necessary to overhaul the system, such as liability burden in case of an accident and determination of compensation standards and scope, ahead of commercialization of autonomous driving level 3 or higher announced.

Researcher Hwang believes that the key role of the autonomous vehicle accident liability legislation and insurance system is to promptly and appropriately relieve accident victims and protect autonomous vehicle users. Therefore, it was emphasized that in the event of an accident, we should focus on ensuring that there is no gap in liability for damages and actual compensation for damages to victims. For this reason, the report suggested ▲resolving the liability and compensation gap, ▲fair distribution of responsibility, and ▲preparing reasonable compensation standards as criteria for reviewing the liability legislation and insurance system for autonomous vehicle accidents.

Even now, the most important part of a car accident is whether or not it is responsible. Researcher Hwang mentioned that it is necessary to look at the distribution of responsibilities between the parties involved in an autonomous vehicle accident and the distribution of responsibilities among the parties involved in autonomous driving.

In particular, in the case of driver liability, it is believed that the establishment of liability will vary depending on whether the driver is at fault, and pointed out that a compensation gap may occur accordingly. ▲Whether the offending vehicle is a self-driving car ▲If it is a self-driving car, whether it was operating in self-driving mode ▲If it is in self-driving mode, whether the operating conditions are satisfied ▲If the liability is changed depending on specific circumstances, such as whether hacking or communication failure has occurred, a gap in responsibility that there is a risk of this happening. For this reason, it was pointed out that the concept-based legal system needs to be overhauled.

He then pointed out that even if the manufacturer's responsibility is expanded to compensate for the reduction in driver responsibility, it is unlikely that it will reach the extent of completely replacing the driver's responsibility, so it is necessary to come up with a plan to resolve the responsibility vacuum. A plan to expand the scope of application of operator responsibility to property accidents, a plan to calculate compensation standards and insurance premiums by reflecting the characteristics of autonomous vehicles, and a method to make communication service providers bear liability for damages in autonomous vehicle accidents that occur during communication failures. Suggestions, etc.

He also mentioned new responsible parties due to the activation of unmanned self-driving cars and compensation for new causes of accidents such as hacking accidents. In particular, in order to fairly distribute responsibilities among autonomous driving-related parties, such as manufacturers, control service providers, road managers, and telecommunications companies, it is essential to clearly identify the cause of the accident, and it is necessary to establish a plan, such as preparing a specialized agency to identify the cause. It was thought that the responsible party would be determined depending on whether the cause of the accident was the driver's negligence, a defect in the car itself, hacking or communication failure, etc.

To sum up, we need to prepare a clear legal basis for calculating the responsibility ratio of various responsible parties, including drivers and manufacturers, and go through a process of social consensus.

Based on the discussion so far, we have summarized the main issues for each accident situation to see what points should be addressed in the actual accident situation.

Who do you think should have the greater responsibility in each situation? If the self-driving car is unavoidable, but the accident could have been avoided when a human intervened, is the human driver in the self-driving car also responsible? In addition, if the judgment of autonomous driving and human judgment are mixed, and there is a difference in the expected accident damage in each situation, how should we discuss this difference?

So far, we have looked at the major issues in the insurance industry regarding accident situations ahead of the commercialization of level 3 autonomous driving. As such, preparing a compensation system for the safety and accidents of self-driving cars is a must-see before commercialization. Active discussions should be held to come up with a plan that can be understood by various stakeholders, such as the calculation of the liability ratio and compensation standards for those involved, such as drivers and manufacturers.

At this point, there is still no clear legal basis or system to prepare for all situations. As various stakeholders are intertwined, it is necessary to clarify the responsibility and revise the system by keeping in mind that compensation gaps do not occur. It seems that a lot of thought and agreement is needed on under what circumstances the duty of care and responsibility should be given to the driver, and how far the range of errors or defects that the vehicle manufacturer could have predicted and prepared for should be looked at.

Related organizations are also showing various movements, such as overhauling the legislation ahead of the commercialization of autonomous driving. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is constantly revamping laws and systems, and is operating the Autonomous Vehicle Accident Investigation Committee through affiliated organizations, the Korea Transportation Safety Authority and the Automobile Safety Research Institute. The Accident Investigation Committee is about to officially open its homepage, where you can see at a glance everything from accident reporting, filing, and inquiry to information viewing, objections, and accident statistics.

In September 2020, the financial authorities also started a full-fledged movement for self-driving car accident compensation by introducing a special contract for self-driving accident guarantee for business vehicles. The industry expects that self-driving insurance products for individuals will also be released within the year. However, in autonomous driving of level 4 or higher, where unmanned driving is also possible, compensation seems to require a lot of discussion because the concept of driver responsibility becomes ambiguous.

In addition, the ‘Trolley Dilemma’ of self-driving cars is also mentioned as a topic to think about prior to commercialization of self-driving cars. The Trolley Dilemma is a thought experiment in ethics about whether to sacrifice the few or the many if someone must be sacrificed. When an autonomous vehicle cannot avoid an accident, we must think about whether it is right to choose between the minority and the majority, or whether it is right to protect a pedestrian or a driver, and who is responsible for it. Furthermore, shouldn't there be a social consensus on what choice is the ethically correct path for manufacturers to make in developing algorithms for autonomous driving systems?

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