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The Road to Self-Driving Cars

Once a dream for the future, self-driving cars may be within reach as manufacturers continue to develop and test models they say could be in every US household in a matter of years. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently reported that automakers have already evolved in the area of automated safety technologies, having almost reached the culmination of the Five Eras of Safety.

Though convenience is an attractive feature, safety is the main reason cited by the various players in the self-driving industry for the heavy push to transition to these new technologies. Without the human element, an automobile operating through technology is less likely to be involved in accidents – in theory. Despite the claims of potential safety, many of these technology players are racing to be the “first,” to market in order to plant a flag and potentially claim billions of dollars in profits. Indeed, whoever can ultimately dominate the self-driving industries of tomorrow, will likely secure their place in the pantheon of big business.

While various experts debate the timelines for the ubiquitous arrival of fully self-driving vehicles, various related technological safety and convenience innovations have already begun to trickle into the market place as a precursor of what is to come. While such features cannot now fully eliminate the potential for fatal and injury causing accidents, many such technologies are beginning to reduce some types of motor vehicle collisions or in some cases reduce the severity of unavoidable collisions.

 

Current Accident Prevention Technologies

For the last 70 years, much of the innovation in auto manufacturing was focused on protecting the car’s occupants in the event of a collision. Notable technologies that were accessible to motorists over the decades have included:

  1. 1950-2000: Anti-lock brakes and seatbelts;
  2. 2000-2010: Lane departure warning and blind spot detection;
  3. 2010-2016: Automatic emergency braking and lane centering assist;
  4. 2016-2025: Self-parking and traffic jam assist; and alpha versions of autopilot

Today, most of the concerted efforts are dedicated towards preventing accidents altogether to technologies that either warn or prompt the operator to take action or otherwise act in place of the operator by subsuming control of the vehicle to make split second decisions faster than the driver can. For example, many new vehicles made in 2017 or later now have some or all of the following technologies:

  • Lane Departure Warning: This feature alerts the driver if he or she strays outside the lane of traffic, which can reduce the number of crashes linked to fatigued driving. Newer vehicles also come equipped with a prevention feature that triggers along with an alarm and automatically corrects the car into the proper lane using a combination of machine vision and sensors.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: Once a luxury option, cruise control is now a standard feature in most of cars on the road today. However, cruise control is still dependent upon input from the operator to function correctly. Adaptive cruise control is an incremental improvement of the cruise control technology, that not only maintains a constant speed, but it also incorporates cameras or sensors to detect reduction in velocity within traffic ahead, and will then apply the brakes to adjust without input from the vehicle operator. Once traffic picks up again, adaptive cruise control accelerates up to a safe speed. Thus, it removes the necessity for a driver’s input as to the accelerating and decelerating a vehicle on a highway. However, the driver still must operate the steering wheel and must otherwise monitor the vehicle’s actions in case the vehicle does not operate properly.
  • Cross-Traffic Alerts: Intersections continue to be a common location for motor vehicle accidents, often because the motorist does not detect peripheral traffic approaching. Cross-traffic alert relies upon a camera or sensor that can spot vehicles oncoming from the side. An alert sounds to notify the driver to apply the brakes to avoid a collision. Rear cross-traffic alert is a related technology, which sounds an alarm when the operator is reversing into a dangerous situation.
  • Blind Spot Monitoring: Side and center mirrors are limited, so you may not be able to detect other vehicles and objects in the gap known as the “blind spot.” You get a complete view with blind spot monitoring that warns you when there are threats in this zone.
  • Automatic Braking: Even though it may take a fraction of a second for your brain to send a message to your foot to apply the brakes, automatic braking can arguably do it faster. Reaction time remains a factor in many crashes, simply due to the physical limitations of the human body. Though maybe just by a nanosecond, this feature trims down braking time to help you avoid or in some cases mitigate the impact and severity of a collision.

Automated safety features are promising and continue to advance, but there is still a long road ahead of modern civilization to reach full automation. Perhaps it will take a decade. Perhaps it will take a human lifetime. Nevertheless, in the world as it is currently, negligent vehicle operation continues to be the primary cause of most accidents, and will likely continue to be the main cause of such collisions over the next one or two decades. At some point, as self-driving technologies subsume entire transportation markets and perhaps human driving becomes obsolete, humanity may ultimately see significant declines in the number of injury causing collisions as safety-tech is refined and improved upon over time. However, the world is a still a dangerous place for moving vehicles, and it will likely not be possible to prevent all possible harm. In the future, it may be that most collisions that occur are due to software programming errors, misjudgment of AI, or perhaps failure of mechanical parts. Maybe simply just an inability of machines to perfectly “predict” the future will result in injury causing events that occur seemingly at random. Nevertheless, one can only hope that amidst the profits and the glory that inure to the winners in the technology arms races that humanity will benefit as vehicle safety is improved for everyone everywhere.

Read Some of Our Recent Client Reviews!

UniversalSniping
UniversalSniping
02:32 04 Aug 18
The lawyer who was initially handling my case parted ways with the company and I was assigned a new lawyer. This new lawyer was amazing! Christina Franetovich made me feel secure by double checking all the facts and notes in my case so that I was not worried during this transition. I was on disability from an a different accident while she was finalizing my case, and I had called and hounded her about the time frame of my settlement very frequently to the point that I felt guilty for calling so much. Christina was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do everything in her power to make sure the situation would be resolved quickly. She actually finalized my case before the time frame she had given me, was always very courteous and knowledgable on the phone, and I feel extremely lucky that she ended up handling my case because the previous lawyer was not as amazing with customer service as Christina. She also has a way of making you feel comfortable and builds incredible rapport quickly. I am going to highly recommend her to my friends and family. Thank you Christina!!!
Andrea Barajas
Andrea Barajas
15:13 16 May 18
My husband and I were in a car accident in August 2017. We contacted Bob Katz team for legal representation in our case. Kristen A. Turner was our paralegal and she was excellent. It took 9 months for us to receive our settlement and Kristen kept us updated throughout this entire process. She was very kind and patient as I happened to have several questions. She always answered my questions promptly and thoroughly. I would highly recommend this firm and Kristen if you are in need of legal assistance.
Richard Hose
Richard Hose
02:26 27 Jun 18
On Feb 23, 2017 I was in a bad accident on the JFX. I had been rear end by another driver. Almost immediately I felt pressured by the other drivers insurance. Everything from wanting a recorded statement; to failing to acknowledge responsibility. No one would answer my questions, nor would anyone take responsibility. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone from the towing company, to the repair shop, to the insurance company nightmare I just entered. I reached out to Attorney Robert Katz and I was assured they were here to help. He provided with some much needed information, and told me not to worry, Sarah his Paralegal would be in touch to help get things moving. Sarah reached out as expected and explained their process and walked me through what my expectations would be. She as well assured me they were here to help me navigate the obstacles. What Sarah really did was so much more than help. She took the stress and burden off my shoulders and assumed ownership for handling everything on my behalf. I knew what to expect, and I received regular updates throughout the entire process. Honestly, I received so much more than I anticipated. Some of the most frustrating items to chase after are medical records and hospital charges. While I was trying to recall events and timelines, she had already obtained my records and information. She made this process so painless. I truly cannot say enough about the exceptional service she provided. Many thanks for all your help. Sincerely, Richard Hose
Claudette Pope
Claudette Pope
13:18 30 Aug 18
I was referred to Gordon & feindblatt in 2014 when my family was in an accident, Mr. Katz personally consulted with me by phone and he was very polite and professional, Mr. Carpuso, one of the litigation attorneys even came out to our home and went over our case with us, he made sure all of our needs was addressed and before he left our home that day I felt like we were old friends. that case was settled and I was very pleased, I have used this law firm twice since then and the results are always the same, I have nothing but great experiences with Gordon & Feindblatt the staff are courteous and professional and they get the job done but the one in particular that really stood out for me is Rebecca Slattery, she is truly a gem, she is so compassionate, she walked me through the entire process, she even checked up on me from time to time just to see how I was feeling and I really appreciated her kindness. I will use this law firm again and again for any future legal issue that may arise and I would highly recommend Gordon & Fiendblatt to friends, family and co-workers.
TheOfficalCeeandDee
TheOfficalCeeandDee
15:24 09 Feb 18
My experience here was great. My lawyer Rebecca was so professional and I love her personality. She handled my case well and kept me updated and made the process easy and always made me feel comfortable to call whenever I needed to know anything.
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Location: Tysons

Chris Shin
Chris Shin
18:23 20 Jun 18
They were very polite, professional. and informed current status of the case time to time. Great Job !!!
Jonathan Roane
Jonathan Roane
22:51 17 Nov 17
If you ever need any assistance with an accident or injury-related claim this is the firm you need hands down. These are the most professional and caring people I have ever met in my life. Two people you should contact are Rebecca Slattery who was actually my paralegal and also Allan Serrano. You will be in good hands.
Israel Thompson
Israel Thompson
00:52 06 Dec 17
Attorney MR Bob Katz outstanding Human being, went beyond and above to help me during my accident, he showed me tremendous kindness and support.Thank you so much will highly recommend him to anyone who needs help with their auto accident
Marta Kritselis
Marta Kritselis
16:19 01 Sep 17
Rebecca Slattery the paralegal She took care my case and she was very helpful throughout the whole process. I highly recommend to my family and friend the services of Attorney Bob Kats and there team .
Myong Kim
Myong Kim
22:04 31 Mar 17
I am grateful to Bob and Justin Katz and their team for working hard to get me the most money. They were very professional and easy to work with in Korean. I will recommend them to friends and family any chance I have.
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