Articles from our Morgantown Personal Injury Law Office about Safety Issues, Insurance Law, Auto Accidents, Personal Injury Claims, and Other Legal Issues in West Virginia. Questions? Call 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 today.
Hands-free is not risk free! Distractions are a top factor in fatal car crashes, and the percent of these fatal crashes is increasing, not decreasing. Reversing a 40-year trend of decrease, in 2015 fatal vehicle crashes were up 7.5% and up 8% in 2016.
According to Accident Attorneys, a National Safety and Legal Resource for personal injury attorneys and those seeking such legal assistance, improved car safety technology and driver education contributed to the decrease in fatalities in past years. As gas prices have dropped and use of electronic devices while driving has increased, the increase of roadway deaths has also increased.
The NHTSA reports that 10 percent of all fatal crashes involving young drivers (ages 16 to 24) resulted from distracted driving.
A new NHTSA rule requires all light passenger vehicles to be equipped with an Event Data Recorder (EDR) by Sep.1, 2014. Most new cars already have them – measuring such inputs as speed, lateral acceleration, pedal effort, seat belt use, wheel spin, steering wheel turn and direction. Supporters state that the data collected from these boxes could provide more information regarding car use and safety in a single day than could be collected through years of crash testing. Even with the good which could be accomplished through this mode of data collection, the opportunity for misuse and hacking will be ever-present.
The proposed federal rule that would require black boxes or event data recorders (EDRs) in every U.S. automobile will also make personal injury litigation tougher because in even clear liability cases where someone is involved in a collision while lawfully operating their vehicle, the “big brother” aspect of the black box will be used by the defense attorney to assign comparative fault to the injured driver. In a manner similar to the comparative fault assigned now to a driver who fails to wear a seatbelt which results in an automatic 5% reduction of potential reimbursement of medical bills at trial, if according to the EDR the injured driver was exceeding the speed limit by even five miles per hour their claim could be reduced by that comparative fault. Issues regarding potential tampering, hacking, and malfunction of the event data recording device will also impact the litigation of these claims.
The advent of a new technology of any type will take years to adjust to, and the insurance companies have billions of dollars at their disposal to steer legislation and regulations to favor their position on denying claims and limiting payments to injury victims. We have relied on eye-witness testimony for so long it is hard to imagine that a black box will replace eye witness testimony — but like it or not, we have to adjust to it. I agree that data recorders can assist us in screening our cases better, and may even assist in getting better recoveries for some cases. However, there are many collisions that involve some slight discrepancy of our client, and the black box could be used against them, where an eye-witness would not be able to substantiate any fault to our client. In the end, it will require us to be more careful in what cases we accept.
Morgantown Car Accident Attorneys
If you or your loved one has been injured, it is important to act quickly to protect your claim in order to gain the compensation needed to help you move forward with your recovery and your life. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.
At this year’s L.A. Auto Show, carmakers highlighted safety features that focus on preventing accidents rather than merely surviving them.
Warning indicators for blind spots and rearview cameras have become common, but many manufacturers are taking the technologies a step further.
The additional features act on the safety warnings when a driver fails to do so, said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of online auto research firm Edmunds Inc.
“I think they are too easy to ignore,” he said of the warnings. “If your car has a whole series of these different lights flashing and buzzers, it is too much to process in a panic moment.”
Lane Departure Prevention – Cars that Self-Correct Driver Errors:
Infiniti presented one solution with its Infiniti JX, unveiled last week at the auto show. The JX boasts the world’s first backup collision intervention technology. Like existing backup sensors, the system beeps if it detects potential obstacles while the vehicle is in reverse. But now, if the driver does not respond, the system automatically brakes to prevent a collision.
“We initiated this technology in the industry,” said Kyle Bazemore, senior manager of Infiniti product communications. He said Infiniti also pioneered other proactive safety systems.
“We were the first to have lane-departure prevention — if you’re drifting out of your lane, it’ll automatically nudge you back in,” he said. “Also blind-spot intervention — if you move with something in your blind spot it also nudges you back.”
Inflatable Seat Belts and Virtual Bumper Systems:
The new Ford Explorer on display at the auto show also integrates lane-departure technology. In addition, the Explorer features inflatable seat belts — a first in the industry — designed to reduce chest and neck injuries. Other safety options include blind-spot warnings and an automatic parallel-parking system.
“In the industry, the technologies are all already there,” said Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell. “The difference is what you tell these systems to do.”
One way Cadillac’s new XTS adopted these technologies is with its virtual bumper feature.
“For example, in a dark, low-speed place, like a parking garage with columns and pillars,” Caldwell said, “if you’re about to hit something, behind you or in front of you, the virtual bumper will alert the driver and apply full braking up to 25 mph.”
The XTS also offers a collision mitigation braking system that, simply put, understands and interprets the pressure the driver applies to the brake. So if the system feels a panicked stomp, the electronic brakes will intervene and help avoid nearby objects detected by sensors placed around the car.
Increased Air Bag Protection:
The new Scion iQ, the world’s smallest four-seater, has the most airbags in the industry, according to a spokeswoman at the carmaker’s auto show exhibit. The iQadded a rear-window airbag, an industry first, totaling 11 for the compact car.
The Cadillac XTS also added an airbag between the driver and front passenger seat, giving the vehicle a total of 10 airbags.
“It’s about as many as you can add without turning it into a pillow,” Caldwell said.
Airbags aside, Volvo spokesman James Hope summed up what safety means for future cars: “It’s the whole idea of intuitive technology.”
Pedestrian, Animal, and Bicycle Detection Features:
Four U.S. Volvo models currently offer an active pedestrian detection system. The vehicle automatically brakes if the driver does not react to pedestrians detected by the radar. The car fully brakes up to 25 mph.
“What’s coming in the near future for Volvo, we’re talking 2014, is animal detection,” Hope said. “In Sweden, for example, there’s a big problem with elk and moose. The full weight of this animal coming through the windshield can kill occupants.”
The new Cadillac XTS has sensors and cameras that can also detect if cyclists or pedestrians are approaching from the side. The system alerts the driver of this side traffic by vibrating the seat cushion on the corresponding side.
What’s Next? Cars that Communicate with Each Other for Accident Prevention:
What else is next? Anwyl said there eventually would be technology that enables cars to adapt to surrounding vehicles and prevent potential collisions.
“Cars will be able to communicate so each car knows what to do,” he said. “The technology is here. It’s just a few years off.”
Volvo is among the automakers already thinking in that direction. It’s working on a concept it calls “platooning,” Hope said.
“You have the lead car, and the car behind it drives to the tune of the car ahead,” he said. “This increases efficiency and safety — cars can drive closer together safely.”
The Cadillac XTS already offers a speed-range adaptive cruise control, enabling drivers to set a following distance from the car in front of them. Caldwell said this was a useful bonus for Angelenos driving on crowded freeways in stop-and-go traffic.
“This kind of technology is hugely useful because it doesn’t require that you pay full attention,” Anwyl said. “We are right at the beginning of what I think is going to be a huge wave of these features and it’s really all based on advanced technologies. Computers, processors are all getting to the point now where they can handle a vast amount of information and turn that information around.”
“In the end, it’s about helping the driver see better,” Caldwell said. “We don’t want to take over the driver, but we do want to assist the driver.”