Computers and other modern technology have drastically changed the way we do many things over the last three decades. During this time, car manufacturers used computers to ensure their vehicles ran more efficiently and kept passengers and drivers safe, but it has only been in the last few years that they embraced the role new car technology could play in preventing crashes.
Of course, technology also contributes to thousands of crashes each year nationwide. With the popularization of cell phones and texting, distracted driving became an epidemic. While modern technology allows drivers to use their mobile devices hands-free, recent research shows that cognitive distractions can be just as deadly as those that take your hands off the wheel.
How can new car technology help prevent car accidents?
Vehicle manufacturers and safety organizations alike believe that new car technology is going to play a key part in reducing fatality rates over the next decade. Some of this technology is already available in new cars rolling off the assembly line, and some is still in development.
While it is impossible to predict all the technology that could help prevent collisions in the future, some of the most promising includes:
- Forward Collision Warning Systems: Sensors on the front of the vehicle determine when you are too close to another car or other object, and sounds an alarm. This allows you to brake or take other actions to avoid a crash.
- Lane Departure Warning Systems: This technology utilizes cameras and other sensors to track where your vehicle is in relation to your lane, and warns you of drifting.
- Lane Keeping Support: Whether working on its own or serving to bolster the Lane Departure Warning System, Lane Keeping Support technology can prevent drivers from drifting into other lanes by taking control of the vehicle and aligning it with the center of the lane.
- Automatic Emergency Braking: When sensors around the car determine that a collision is imminent, the vehicle automatically applies the brakes to help stop a crash or lessen the speed at impact.
- Rearview Video Systems: These backup cameras are one of the most common technologies in cars today. While they do not offer alerts or automatic braking, they do help eliminate blind spots behind the vehicle.
- Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking: By alerting the driver or applying the brakes when something passes behind the vehicle, this type of system can prevent collisions with pedestrians, shopping carts, and other cars.
- Automatic Crash Notification: Systems that automatically contact first police and other first responders can cut down on fatalities by providing emergency medical care quickly.
How is new technology contributing to car accidents?
While mobile phones are far from the only thing that distracts drivers, they do play a huge role. Many people mistakenly believe that hands-free cell phone technology makes it safer to use mobile devices while you drive. The research, however, shows this is not the case.
According to a 2015 study from the University of Utah, it takes an average of 27 seconds for a driver’s attention to return to the road after using voice commands to make a phone call or send a text. Drivers also remain distracted — without their full attention on the road — for the entire time they are on the phone.
While distracted drivers have their mind on their phone call, text, or other task, they show evidence of slowed reaction times and often miss important visual cues such as turn signals, traffic signals, or stopped traffic. This can quickly lead to a crash, especially at high speeds.
What about self-driving cars?
Google’s work in developing and testing self-driving cars has the potential to bring about even more safety improvements on America’s roads. Despite a fatality crash earlier this year involving an automated Tesla Model S while in autopilot mode, both Google and representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) remain optimistic about the future of this type of technology.
In fact, according to one NHTSA executive, having autopilot technology in all cars could reduce the percentage of car crashes caused by human error by 94 percent or more. This is significant, since the great majority of fatal crashes occur because of a driver’s careless actions.
While the technology is still developing and improving, there are also a number of other issues that we must iron out before self-driving cars become the norm. It remains to be seen how liability and insurance claims work when two automated vehicles collide, and if the programmer, manufacturer, or other company is responsible for a crash or if that liability falls to the driver.
What if I suffer injuries in a Colorado car accident?
While technology may prevent a number of car accidents in the future, the unfortunate truth is that technology causes more crashes today through distracted driving than it is preventing.
If you suffered injuries because of a distracted driver, the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, LLC can offer you smart, aggressive, and compassionate representation. Call us today at 303-758-4777 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.