Opinion: Knight’s Days, Life at Westminster with Sir Greg Knight

There are questions to deal with regarding driverless cars.
There are questions to deal with regarding driverless cars.

Those who commit serious crimes – particularly crimes of violence – deserve to go to prison, but before they get there very often the victim is put through the harrowing process of having to give evidence in court.

Criminals who admit their guilt at the outset deserve some credit for doing so and that is why I support the new guidelines which have been introduced which say that criminals will only receive the maximum one third reduction to their sentence if they plead guilty at the first court hearing.

Not only by so doing do they save victims the stress of a trial, but they free up valuable court resources.

Generally, most laws enacted by Parliament deal with problems that are already facing the country such as cyber crime, trading standards and issues of justice.

However, currently Parliament is legislating for something which is not yet with us but is about to happen!

The Vehicle Technology Bill seeks to pave the way for driverless cars on our roads.

This should put Britain at the cutting edge of this new and emerging technology.

Changes to our insurance law will be necessary as the driverless car will need itself to be insured rather than the ‘driver’/owner.

The new technology should open up opportunities for travel for those who are currently at a disadvantage because they cannot drive.

Most disabilities will no longer be a deterrent when the car you are travelling in can drive itself.

This Bill has widespread support at Westminster and is being backed by MPs of all parties. However, it does raise a number of interesting questions.

For example, if the driverless car exceeds the speed limit who gets the fine?

It should surely not be the innocent occupier, so would the blame fall on the car manufacturer?

There is also then the question of the travel data which the car stores and which reveals where it has been.

Clearly, when such a vehicle has been involved in an accident, the data should be made available to the insurance companies concerned and, if necessary, to the police.

Similarly, if it believed the car has been involved in a crime, such as being used as a burglary getaway car, then the police should be able to access the travel history of the vehicle.

But what should happen when no crime has been committed? For example, should a divorce lawyer acting for the spouse of the car owner be allowed to access data to see where the partner has been, in order to prove adultery?

Although the Bill has widespread support, these are questions that Parliament still has to grapple with.

Over in Germany, a hapless gardener has fallen foul of a much older law banning drink-driving.

The man after having consumed several pints of lager, got on his motor mower to cut his front lawn, which abuts the local highway. Seen weaving about by the police he was breathalysed and arrested for being over the limit.

Oh dear. It seems that both he and his lawns ended up half cut!