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Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines

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Re: Daft idea

"So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions"

unfortunately yes. if vosa pull you over, test your car, find it non compliant then the driver is fined and handed a defect notice. as wrong as this is (as the car was bought new and serviced in good faith).

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Anonymous Coward

If it's at an MOT check which it should pass, then yes.

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So, if the software written by the manufacturer is in control of the vehicle and exceeds the speed limit, is found to be unmodified, patched correctly and in a timely manner and otherwise operating correctly, surely the vehicle manufacturer is responsible?

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

"Will you be liable if you refuse the VW correction patch?"

A couple of friends are about to find out.

First few letters arrived with DVLA headings on them (spuriously - this has nothing to do with them apart from tracing drivers), all officially worded, "you need to take your car" blah blah blah.

Eventually, a folded leaflet arrives which basically asks them to tick a box to say they're not going to have it done. This has no DVLA logos, they've dropped that plan of attack by now.

This leaflet has followed the others into the recycling box (think Green, kids. Always recycle!). I don't believe VAG, DVSA or anyone else can force the update to be done, which is why they word it as an "upgrade" rather than the more truthful "downgrade". The software change appears to ruin fuel economy if you see before/after tales from drivers that have had it done, by virtue of it triggering DPF regenerations far more often (which just injects more fuel in to raise temperatures). Previously these weren't needed, as the shite just fell out the back.

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> "So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?"

Yes, you are, you are responsible for ensuring your vehicle is fit to operate on the road.

Similarly if I have an escalator in my shop that goes so fast it launches grannies two foot in the air off the top, that's my problem too.

People are starting to get very strange ideas of who is responsible for their machines.

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Anonymous Coward

If your not driving it then you are just a passenger, and the car could have many passengers in it so there would be no way, by law, for the police to determine which passenger was at fault.

The car and it's autonomous AI would be at fault and therefore the insurance firm would need to pay and would have telemetry to prove it was driving, what speed and GPS history.

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

Yeah so fuck everyone else for your 10% extra bhp, right?!

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So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?~

Actually yes you probably are. But, since your Car is still likely under some Warranty or other. You could try, and take it up with VW. Though I doubt they would care much.

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The only emissions tests in an MoT test are for CO and hydrocarbons, there's nothing about CO2 or NOx.

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Another question no-one has asked, that is routinely found to be an issue with 'regular' speeding tickets is the actual signage - if the signage is defective, how does the car challange it (regardless of who would pay)?

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

"The software change appears to ruin fuel economy if you see before/after tales from drivers that have had it done,"

Well I had my Touran 'fixed' in April. Traveling to Switzerland ( a 3 times a year 1700 mile trip) returns 54-55mpg exactly the same as the previous 12 trips.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Daft idea

> "So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions"

> unfortunately yes. if vosa pull you over, test your car, find it non compliant then the driver is fined and > handed a defect notice.

MOT & roadside emissions testing for diesels is on smoke density, though (or it was when mine was spot-checked ... on the way back from an MOT ...) ...

> as wrong as this is (as the car was bought new and serviced in good faith).

Agreed.

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Anonymous Coward

> People are starting to get very strange ideas of who is responsible for their machines.

Whilst I'm all for people taking responsibility for their actions, it is morally unconscionable to hold someone responsible for something for which they cannot reasonably be aware of. In the UK it is essentially impossible for a private citizen to know what emissions their car is producing, because no-one provides the service to the public (I believe there are 3 companies offering PEMS rental, and only 1 will deal with the public). You might as well put police/VOSA at every Nissan garage and pull everyone driving a brand nee Qashqai off the forecourt (or in fact, almost any diesel on the road - I'm sure it actually applies to a lot of petrol's too).

What you're saying (effectively), is that if I (hypothetically) buy rat poison which is marketed as safe for human consumption*, it's tested by the Food Standards Agency an acredited as such**, but the manufacturer had incorporated an undetected fatal-to-humans component in it***, then I'd be liable for my neighbour's child eating it and dying. Which is patently absurd.

* analogous to car manufacturer's marketing blurb

** analogous to EURO certification

*** analogous to defeat device

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So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

The VW scandal concerned NOx, not CO2, which is important because NOx has a legal maximum limit (analagous to a speed limit) whereas CO2 is just used as a tax lever by governments.

Whether you're liable will probably depend on how the law is written. It it says that you can't drive a car with emissions above a certain level then yes, you're liable (but will have a very good claim against VW for selling unfit goods). If the law simply says that it's not legal to sell cars that exceed the limits then you're probably not liable.

It's not really the same issue as speeding. Consider the current situation with a hire car. If you get stopped for speeding, you'll get fined. If you're caught by a camera the notice goes to the owner (the rental car agency) and there's always small print in the contract which says that they will pass your name as driver to the authorities, and if you don't pay they will bill the fine plus an "administrative charge" to your credit card. I think it likely that the same approach will be applied to autonomous vehicles, the "registered keeper" will be the end of the line for the ticket.

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

> equating speed with risk is primarily done because it is easy to enforce (and fine).

You didn't get any downvotes from me, but I'll just observe that the kinetic energy of you and the vehicle you're in goes up as the square of your speed (velocity, really).

If you have E joules of k.e. at thirty m.p.h., you'll have 1.77E joules at forty.

Since higher energy collisions do damage proportional to the energy involved, a small increase in speed can result in much more damage, so that does lead to increased risk.

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

"A couple of friends are about to find out."

For this kind of case it's trivial. Type Approval is withdrawn for non-"upgraded" cars and the DVSA sends someone around to impound it unless you have proof the fix has been done and is still installed. They'll also tell your insurance company, who will send you a nice letter withdrawing cover.

The rumour mill says that there's about to be a major crackdown on diesels with removed DPFs and ones with the guts of the DPF box hacked out (it's a thing apparently: cut open, dump the contents, weld closed again, modify your engine manglement to disable DPF burns.) as well as "decatted" petrol vehicles and the ever popular engine management hacks to "restore power" (all the above void the Type Approval). With any luck this will extend to the "loud exhaust" brigade (an exhaust louder than factor voids type approval too)

Voiding your Type Approval means you're driving without insurance, so getting caught is a lot more serious than you might think at first.

It'll be "interesting" as the worst offenders tend to be commercial drivers. Imagine half London's mincabs being impounded, etc

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"there's nothing about CO2 or NOx."

YET.

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Re: Daft idea

"spot-checked ... on the way back from an MOT"

One of the more paradoxical things in the UK is that you can pass the MOT with a car that isn't in roadworthy condition. Yes, really.

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

Putting a sports exhaust on a car doesn't invalidate insurance. Type Approval is the process to get a car on sale, it doesn't have to meet TA afterwards. Are you thinking of Construction and Use Regs? In which case they're much more lax - in fact there is no dB limit for exhausts, by virtue of it being almost impossible to reliably measure outside of a lab (there is however a dB limit for Type Approval).

C&U is effectively what the MOT Test and/or a roadside stop checks - does the car meet basic safety standards AFTER sale (sharp edges, faulty lights, floor made of cardboard etc). You can modify a car away from its TA specs and as long as it's still "roadworthy" to C&U regs - checked at MOT time after three years - then it's legal.

They sold the car in a Type Approved state, you're under no obligation to update it further. It's your car. It's roadworthy. It meets the regulations that are relevant (C&U).

Some of the people refusing to have it done have an upgraded ECU already so there's no point, others don't want the increased load on the DPF which causes huge repair bills when it inevitably clogs.

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Black Helicopters

I suspect that you've confused what should happen with what does happen...

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@david132

Best comment I've read anywhere for ages. Funny and sadly true..

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Re: So I'm liable for my Volkswagon exceeding CO2 emissions?

"Well I had my Touran 'fixed' in April. Traveling to Switzerland ( a 3 times a year 1700 mile trip) returns 54-55mpg exactly the same as the previous 12 trips."

We have noticed no difference in the wife's Audi since it was done either, she spends maybe 70% of her working day driving so if there was anything more than a negligible difference we would have noticed by now.

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Try a sensible design?

"Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin asked what would happen if a self-driving car was "slow in responding to a change in signage", using the example of a smart motorway with editable speed limits."

Surely there's a 'grace period' of about a thirty seconds (or whatever) before any new speed limit violations will trigger a recorded offence? If not, why not?

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Re: Try a sensible design?

The trick is to use an example to prove the point.

The insurers want to take no responsibility for the car's speed.

So when the system fails, the GPS is out, the road map is inaccurate, a new road is put in, a speed limit on an existing road is changed, or there are roadworks - they want no part of it.

Asking the question shows that. They'll be overruled anyway. But it shows them that they'll have to take account of things like that, and insure it, whether they like it or not. Ask any insurer if they want to cover you using candles responsibly at home, they'll say no. The fact is they don't get to specify things down to that level of detail and need to take into account that people will do that anyway.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

What, and miss out on all that lovely revenue?

Don't worry, they'll follow the fine principles of ex-North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom (he of the infamous "that guy we caught doing 31mph in a 30 zone* is no better than a teenage vandal and should shut up and admit his guilt") when designing this. Just be grateful that the speed limit signs aren't in a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory behind a sign saying "beware of the leopard", etc.

*-because the guy in question was overtaking a slow-moving tractor, as I recall.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

"they want no part of it"

Do you know an insurer who would insure a human driver for speeding fines ?

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Re: Try a sensible design?

"Surely there's a 'grace period' of about a thirty seconds (or whatever) before any new speed limit violations will trigger a recorded offence? If not, why not?"

According to a friend* who was invited to a 'naughty step' course in lieu of a speeding ticket the cameras are armed 12 seconds after the signs are changed.

* honest...

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Re: Try a sensible design?

You’ve hit on the perfect solution: Send your car to the naughty step class and thus no fine for anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try a sensible design?

Presumably once there are a number of autonomous vehicles on the road, any variable signage would be updated to unambiguously communicate with them - e.g. bluetoth / wifi / short range beacons with an ID for that gps position, published to all satnav makers, so that the car could receive the speed data, and know it came from a legit sign.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

Perhaps the idea of changing speed limits on the fly is just stupid ?

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Re: Try a sensible design?

"Surely there's a 'grace period' of about a thirty seconds (or whatever) before any new speed limit violations will trigger a recorded offence? If not, why not?"

Yes, there is a delay before the speed cameras react to the new lower limit. If you just passed a variable speed limit sign which sets a lower limit, you won't know until you see the next sign and as far as you are concerned the new lower limit doesn't apply until you reach that sign.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

"Perhaps the idea of changing speed limits on the fly is just stupid ?"

For human drivers? No. Slowing down the traffic a few miles before an incident or just heavy and slow traffic works because you don'y get so many people arriving at the back of the queue quite so quickly. With mainly autonomous cars, speed limits per se may not even be necessary since they hopefully will all be online and communicating.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

Not an insurer but NewsThump reported that Audi would pay fines for their owners of new cars. Up to £20k a year apparently.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

Just be grateful that the speed limit signs aren't in a locked filing cabinet...

It's an interesting point whether the displayed speed limit sign is the definitive legal limit, or that is the speed limit assigned by the local authority ?

If somebody puts up a fake speed limit sign or a variable one malfunctions are you currently responsible ?

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Re: Try a sensible design?

> Do you know an insurer who would insure a human driver for speeding fines ?

I think this is why I'm having such trouble following the line of reasoning. Insurers have never covered you for breaking the law. If you are driving an unregistered vehicle and have an accident, your insurer won't pay out. Same if you are driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions or under the influence of a substance (prescribed or otherwise). They are not about to start now.

They will insure you against fire, theft, damage caused by another party etc. At most, they may accept to charge back to Ford/Toyota/BMW/whoever. The manufacturers themselves may have public liability insurance specifically to handle Takata scale recalls but carrying the can for this isn't something that retail insurance would want a bar of.

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Mushroom

Insurance liability

This really is a load of old bx.

So the insurers have to pay the fine when "my" driverless car breaks the speed limit - or commits any other offence "on my behalf"?

And my premiums will not be affected at all? So I wont in the end have to pay?

See icon >>

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Coat

Re: Try a sensible design?

You’ve hit on the perfect solution: Send your car to the naughty step

In the case of Spanish VW-group cars, it's a naughty Seat.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

the insurer will end up paying the fine. your premium will include a fee to do so. no different from the legal fee coverage part of some policies.

cant see the hoohaa insurers are making. any extras they are mandated to do will simply cost us more on our premiums :(

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try a sensible design?

Maybe it would be better if they spent the money on fixing all those defective indicators instead...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Try a sensible design?

I'm torn between saying that it should be obvious that the driver should pay the fine, and should the "driver" be the computer then liability sits with the legal entity who wrote and supplied the software.

However, it then occoured that should you say that the insurers should pay then insurance premiums for autonomous cars would go up to pay for all of the autonomous speeding tickets, which would make them cost ineffective to own.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

I really hope I'm too slow to spot the irony here, but just in case - NewsThump is a satirical site.

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Re: Try a sensible design?

It'll go this way in the end - with either our insurance, the manufacturer's insurance or the bot-developer's insurance covering it.

Insurance is little more than gambling. However for those who noticed that the insurance groups are setting the rules in parliament this is because they have a lot of money... a very large amount of money indeed (they are usually effectively owned by the banks). These groups do not like to lose their bets. Ever. Therefore the bets they take are considerably hedged in their favour and the law of the land has been amended to support this.

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Coat

Re: Try a sensible design?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to Escort you off the premises, Leon...

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Re: Try a sensible design?

... and it just Getz worse..

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Re: Try a sensible design?

"Perhaps the idea of changing speed limits on the fly is just stupid ?"

No variable speed limits are not stupid... Forget motorways for a minute... There are three primary schools near my home, each of these has a 20mph limit outside it. Two of these schools are on busy roads so it makes sense to reduce the speed when the kids are out and about, but between 9.30am and 3pm there are no kids out of school so the limit goes back up to a 30 on one road and a 40 on the other... Similarly after 5pm the kids have all gone home so there is no need for the limit to be lower.

All that is needed is CLEAR SIGNAGE for drivers (Though to be honest if you can get above 10mph at pick up and drop off time near a school I'd be amazed!)

Going back to motorways the idea is that if you follow the posted limits it makes your journey faster as you dont end up getting caught up in miles and miles of traffic as you slow down slightly and the blockage is (theoretically) clear before you get there.. In my experience following the posted limit on the Mway does indeed lead to a much less stressful driving experience.. if we could all follow the posted limits and kill off the middle lane hoggers doing 65 and taking 10 minutes to overtake a lorry driving on the motorway would be much less stressful.

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Anonymous Coward

Speed Limit Signs

How long before pranksters start posting fake speed limit signs? Bonus points to them if they make them only visible in infrared light (e.g., They might be a sale ad, or some other kind of advertisement in visible light, with the speed limit appearing in infrared.).

Hmm, if such a fake speed limit sign indicates that the speed limit is 1,080,000,000 km/hour (e.g., 3E8 m/s), will the car try to break the speed of light? Might be just as entertaining to make the speed limit 1 km/hour.

Anon Y. Mous

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Happy

Re: Speed Limit Signs

Seen pasted onto a roadside sign in the near future, in infrared-visible ink:

( 30 '); DROP TABLE autopilot-rules;-- )

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TRT
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Re: Speed Limit Signs

Make sone wonder about car jacking then. Invisible stop sign. Car starts slowing. Stops. Doors ripped open and "Give us your wallet". Bang!

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Re: Speed Limit Signs

Surely no programmer would make such a simple mistake.

Didn't someone do the same on a registration plate too - seem to recall a pic on the Internet in distant memory

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Re: Speed Limit Signs

Was this the pic on the internet?

https://xkcd.com/327/

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