Archive for September, 2013

Sep 2013

California Traffic Accidents — Technology No Substitute for Attentive Drivers

Any auto accident lawyer in Irvine knows that the majority of car accidents are caused by human error. This has raised an important question: can technology, and ultimately self-driving cars, help to reduce the number of accidents that occur on the roads?  Some predict that it can. And we may not have to wait very long to find out the answer to this question, as the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Nissan pledges to market an affordable “self-driving” car by 2020. 

According the Journal article, the executive vice president of Nissan demonstrated how a prototype of one of the self-driving vehicles, the Leaf electric car, could drive itself and respond to various situations on the road. The executive vice president also commented that most of the technology solutions needed for self-driving cars are already available and that the next big hurdle to overcome is the regulatory framework.

Could Self Driving Cars Reduce Accidents?

Part of the demonstration of the prototype vehicle involved showing how a combination of radar sensors, cameras and laser guidance systems could be used to allow the car to drive itself and avoid and interact with various obstacles on a track.

The vehicle was able to slow down and stop at a red light; to swerve to the left in order to avoid colliding with a pedestrian who jumped in front of the car; and to turn right in response to a turn signal, as well as simulate getting off at a freeway exit.

The sensors that allowed the car to do all of these things were built into the body, unlike prototype models currently being produced by Google that have a rotating device on the roof.  While the Nissan technology is still under development, a lot of the technology that will be necessary to make self driving vehicles a common reality already exists.

For example, cruise control systems that automatically adjust speed to stay a set distance behind cars; and brakes that stop automatically are common today, as are cars that can help to ensure a vehicle stays within its lane.  The self-driving cars will be an extension of these existing technologies that hopefully will allow for fully autonomous driving.

Of course, it is important that this technology exists not just to make self-driving cars possible but also that it makes self-driving cars safe. Some believe that self-driving cars could be safer than those driven by people as self-driving cars aren’t prone to human error.  However, questions remain regarding what happens if a self driving car is involved in an auto accident.

Under current laws in most states, a driver who causes a wreck is responsible for a crash while a manufacturer of a car is responsible only if there was some defect or problem with the vehicle. When the car is self driving, questions could be raised regarding whether the car manufacturer is responsible for all accidents that result when the car is driving itself or whether the owner of the car would still be at fault if something went wrong and a crash occurred.

If you’ve been injured an auto accident lawyer in Irvine can help. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707 today for your free case evaluation.