How is Technology Affecting Car Accident Cases?

Car technology

The rapid pace of technology is dizzying, especially in the automotive industry. New developments in car technology are significantly changing how Americans drive, and their safety while doing so. These innovations can reduce the risk of a car accident and the personal injury that can result.

Today’s cars come with many of the following standard safety features, or buyers can often add them:

  • Lane departure warning. This technology uses cameras to track where the car is going. When it begins to drift out of a lane or off the road, lights or beeps will alert the driver. This warning system may be especially useful in preventing drowsy driving.
  • Steering assist. In conjunction with lane departure warning, when the car detects a deviation from the lane, the steering assist will gently move the vehicle back into the center of the lane.
  • Rollover protection. Many heavier vehicles are prone to rolling over when they skid out of control. Rollover protection systems can sense when a rollover is imminent and will automatically slow and stop the car to help prevent it.
  • Emergency brake assist/collision avoidance. These technologies help drivers avoid rear-end collisions or crashing into objects in front of them. This technology uses cameras and sensors to know when a driver needs to brake suddenly. It will slow and stop the car automatically. Some advanced collision avoidance systems will even steer the vehicle away from an upcoming object.
  • Adaptive cruise control. Although this technology still requires drivers to be alert, it can help them maintain suitable speeds for traffic conditions. For example, adaptive cruise control will shift the car’s speed to that of the leading vehicle to help prevent rear-end collisions. However, it will not compensate for changing road or weather conditions.
  • Alcohol screening systems. Courts often require people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. If the device detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the car will not start. In addition, some car manufacturers are working on technology that can detect alcohol in the blood using infrared touch devices. This development could eventually prevent drunk driving.
  • Electronic stability. These systems have existed for many years but continue to improve. They are designed to slow individual wheels on icy and slippery roads or whenever else wheels spin out of control.
  • Adaptive headlights. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) attributes these headlights to a 10 percent reduction in accidents. Adaptive headlights rotate with the car, such as on twists and turns and around dark corners.
  • Parking assist. A boon for those who find it difficult to parallel park, this technology senses vehicles and other objects in parking spaces. Some parking assist systems will even park the car without the driver touching the wheel. They can also help drivers safely back into parking spaces.
  • 360-degree cameras. Vehicle camera technology continues to evolve. With 360-degree cameras, drivers can see behind and around their car, especially when pulling out of a driveway. In addition, they will alert drivers if anyone is near the vehicle, such as small children, or riding or walking behind the car.
  • Drowsy driving alerts. Some cars come equipped with systems that alert drivers if it is time to take a break based on how long they have been driving.
  • Blind spot detectors. Most drivers have had close calls when changing lanes. It is difficult to see cars in the blind spot. Many vehicles today include mirrors or cameras that help drivers better see objects in their blind spots.
  • Airbag improvements. Many car manufacturers are improving airbag safety and effectiveness with each new model. In addition, many vehicles now have side and rear seat airbags.

Can Technology Cause Car Accidents?

Some technology has been shown to contribute to car accidents, including the following:

  • Cell phones. Studies conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC) show that nearly 26 percent of all vehicle accidents involve someone on their phone. Drivers may be talking, texting, answering email, or programming a navigation system, so they are not entirely focused on the road.
  • Infotainment systems. These systems were initially designed to help drivers use their phones, navigation systems, and other technologies hands-free. Although the idea behind them is good, drivers still need to program or otherwise interact with their car’s infotainment system. Even talking to the system will distract a driver from the road. In fact, the NSC warns that people miss around 50 percent of what is going on around them when they are talking.
  • Self-driving cars. These vehicles have been in the news a lot lately, especially those that have been in accidents. Self-piloting vehicles continue to evolve, opening up an abundance of legal and insurance concerns.
  • Driver overreliance on safety systems. Although car safety technology has many positives, one negative may be driver reliance on the systems. No technology is perfect, nor can it predict every possible situation a driver may encounter. Drivers still need to be alert and prepared to act whenever they are on the road. Technology cannot take the place of human-led safe and courteous driving.

How Technology Affects Car Accident Cases

Technology is most assuredly affecting liability and other legal issues in car accident cases. Current technological improvements have made it possible for insurers and car accident lawyers to understand better what happened in an accident.

Insurers will often deny their client’s liability for the accident. Instead, they may accuse the car accident victim, the plaintiff, of causing or contributing to the accident. They will allege that the victim is partially or fully to blame for injuries and damages. They may even claim that their client was not driving the vehicle.

In these cases, technology can help the accident victim’s lawyer prove that the defendant caused the accident, including the use of the following systems:

  • Dash cameras. Dash cams are more and more popular among everyday drivers, with good reason. In the case of an accident, they are highly effective in proving or disproving liability. In addition, dash cams can protect innocent people in a lawsuit or help with insurance settlement negotiations.
  • Event data recorders (EDR). Every vehicle manufactured after September 1, 2014, must contain a black box, or EDR. These devices record up to 30 different types of data showing what happened before and after an accident. They are helpful in reconstructing an accident and determining who was at fault. Among the data they record are the following:
    • Vehicle speeds.
    • Vehicle braking patterns.
    • Changes in velocity.
    • Engine throttle at various stages.
    • Airbag deployment.
    • Seat belt use.
    • Some EDRs may record the weight of the driver and front passenger, helping prove who was driving.

What is the Future of Car Technology and the Law?

As technologies to increase safety and prove accident liability evolve, especially with the advent of self-driving vehicles, the world is in for a radical change. Lawmakers will need to adapt to using technology to its best advantage. They will need to adjust safety and driving laws to protect citizens, especially related to self-driving cars and the rise in cell phone use. Technologies to detect drunk driving will alter laws, as well.

Insurers and car accident lawyers will also see changes in how they conduct business. Again, self-driving cars have already brought many issues to light, including who is liable in an accident. As lawyers use technology more and more in the courtroom, their work in proving or disproving liability will continue to evolve.

Drivers and consumers will also need to prepare for change. They may experience new regulations and laws, modified insurance coverages and costs, and more help with proving liability in their car accident lawsuits. They may also experience fewer accidents because of car safety technology or more accidents from the inappropriate use of technology.

The bottom line is that nothing will ever take the place of safe and careful driving. Every driver has the duty to drive in a manner that does not harm anyone else. Vehicle technology can help them do that and prove them negligent when they do not.

Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Car Accident Victims

Car technology is excellent, but it does not prevent accidents. If you or a loved one was in a car accident and your life was negatively altered because of another driver’s negligence, contact the Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will use new technology along with good old-fashioned experience and skill to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.