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Autonomous car technology is already paying safety dividends

Much has been written in recent years about the advent of autonomous vehicle technology and the road safety dividends that self-driving cars could provide. While vehicles lacking a steering wheel and pedals may still be several years away, the technology that has been developed by the scientists and engineers working on autonomous vehicle systems is already preventing accidents and saving lives in Louisiana and around the country.

The race between auto makers to bring the first self-driving car to market has produced electronic systems that can prevent vehicles from straying out of their lanes, detect dangers lurking in blind spots and take over the driving duties completely in emergency situations. Motor vehicle accident fatality rates are soaring due to a number of factors, including higher traffic levels and an epidemic of distracted driving, and many road safety experts believe that the figures would be even worse if autonomous safety systems had not been developed.

The latest accident avoidance systems are generally offered as standard equipment on luxury models, but car buyers who purchase family sedans are often able to select them as options. Most road safety advocates believe that this technology will become ubiquitous in the years ahead as the benefits become more widely known and costs decline due to economies of scale.

While personal injury attorneys may support any technological advances that have the potential to save lives, they could be concerned that drivers may become more reckless when they know that their vehicles are ready to seize control and save them in an emergency. However, systems that are designed to prevent accidents can also provide crucial information when car crashes do occur, and the data they record could be used by attorneys to establish that the defendants in car accident lawsuits were exceeding posted speed limits, following the vehicles ahead too closely or weaving between lanes.

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