When it comes to ITS and the connected car, technological progress is moving at a faster pace than road regulations. Regulations need to change on a regular basis to provide the framework, stipulate what is and is not allowed, ensure the safety of drivers and allow the widespread introduction of certain innovations.
Improving road safety
Legislators and supervisory authorities are required to take action in two ways:
Prohibit or restrict the use of innovations that may put people in danger (e.g. by imposing restrictions on content for head-up displays) and make mandatory the systems which have proved effective, such as seat belts and driver airbags in their time. The European Parliament has recently adopted a draft resolution requiring all European vehicles to be equipped with an on-board automatic call system (eCall) by 2015.
This system will notify the emergency services in the event of an accident and provide the exact location of the car using geo-localization. Another example is that Brazil will soon introduce a law requiring all new vehicles to be fitted with a GPS-based anti-theft system.
In some cases, ITS and new automotive technologies need to be tested on a large scale and under real-life conditions, particularly where safety is concerned. The challenge for manufacturers and researchers is to achieve a change in legislation or an exemption to make this testing possible.
The state of California, for instance, has recently passed a law authorizing Google's driverless car to use the roads for testing purposes. The state of Nevada has also adopted a law allowing real-life testing of self-driving cars. Both states do, however, require a passenger to be on board so they can take over in the event of a problem.
Adapting the insurance code
The proliferation of innovations and new services can prove to be a headache for insurance companies. In the case of car-sharing for example, who is liable in the event of an accident? Is it the owner of the car? The person who borrowed it? The company which put the two people in contact? The same goes for the development and marketing of parking technologies. If there is an accident, is it the system developer or the individual who is liable? These technologies can only become widespread if laws and codes governing insurance and civil and criminal liability evolve or are clarified.