Technology can help reduce injuries in an automobile accident, but can technology prevent an automobile accident from ever happening? Is an accident-free future on the horizon? When it comes to auto accident law, technology is playing an increasing role in both protecting drivers and preventing accidents. As technology and auto accident law evolves, researchers are studying the effects of these new technologies and their impact on automobile accident rates and accident survivability. In essence, it is you, the driver that makes the ultimate difference.
Collision Avoidance Technology (CAT) is being thoroughly monitored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS researchers recently analyzed 5,000 accidents in 2015 that were caused by lane departures and blind spot collisions. The study found that collision avoidance and lane departure warning systems reduced the rates of head-on collisions and sideswipes by 11% and 50%, respectively. Combined, these technologies reduced the rate of injuries by 21%. According to IIHS, if every passenger vehicle in America was equipped with these systems, it would have reduced injuries by more than 55,000 in 2015.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems are an old technology that is evolving at a rapid pace. Working in conjunction with Automatic Braking Systems (ABS), these systems adjust the amount of brake force that's applied to each wheel. In wet, icy, or snowy conditions, this provides equal braking force to each wheel. In 2007, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released data that showed ESC systems reduced run-off-road fatal collisions in passenger vehicles by 36%, and in light trucks and vans by 70%. Further, these systems reduced fatal rollovers in passenger vehicles by 70% and in light trucks and vans by 88%. Similar to ESC, Integrated Brake Control (IBC) is a new technology that is scheduled to go into some production vehicles starting in 2018. Promoted as a replacement for ESC systems, IBC uses the negative pressure within a vehicle's engine to enhance braking power.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, adaptive headlights could reduce nighttime accident fatalities by 8% and injuries by 4%. AAA research in the "real world" shows that to date this technology may be responsible for reducing claims rates by between 5-10%. These headlights work by following the path of the vehicle which reduces blind spots and ensures a full range of vision in whatever direction the vehicle is traveling.
Vehicle manufacturers are also moving at full speed to introduce driverless cars everywhere from I-70 and US 50 to city streets and country lanes. The development of driverless cars is spurring the Department of Transportation to propose rules that would require new vehicles to be equipped with Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications systems. V2V systems are essentially short-range radios that convey vehicle speed, direction, brake status, and location. The DOT estimates that these systems could reduce vehicle collisions by as much as 80%.
In addition to these existing technologies, automobile manufacturers have many ideas that are making their way from the drawing board to the test track. Among these is Active Kinematics Control (AKC). This technology steers the rear axle of a vehicle in the same direction as the front wheels. This enhances maneuverability and makes it possible for drivers to steer around pedestrians, other vehicles, and obstructions in the roadway.
Brad Pistotnik Law follows these technologies and their impact on auto accident law closely. Our firm represents clients in Wichita, Kansas City, Goodland, Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal as well as Overland Park, and other cities in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Illinois. We help clients pursue accident claims and the compensation that helps our clients recover and move forward following an automobile accident.
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