37, 461 people were killed in crashes on U.S. roads in 2016. Because most crashes are caused by human error, many see driverless vehicles as a solution to reduce crashes. Automakers and others are rushing to market with vehicles that have autonomous driving capability. Are they doing enough to ensure driverless vehicles are safe? Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen is an injury law firm that focuses on protecting the victims of car accidents and truck crashes. As such, we are hopeful that when properly tested and regulated, driverless vehicles will help to reduce injuries and fatalities as the result of auto accidents. The key is adequate testing and regulation to ensure safety.
Harvard Business Review published a research and computer model conducted by Accenture and the Stevens Institute of Technology. The study indicated that “as many as 23 million fully autonomous vehicles will be traveling U.S. highways by 2035.” Both Tesla and GM introduced new vehicles with self-drive capabilities recently. Tesla rolled out a fully electric semi truck with autopilot drive capabilities. The semi can apparently go 500 miles between charges while hauling 80,000 pounds. It’s equipped with automated braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings. General Motors also just unveiled its new driverless cars. It seems like a race to see which automakers can bring driverless vehicles to the market first. In addition to automakers, Google, Apple and Uber are testing driverless technology as well.
Google’s driverless vehicle safety report
Google recently submitted the first-ever safety report to regulators regarding Waymo, its self-driving car company. The company has done extensive research and testing and hopes to better educate the public regarding driverless vehicle technology. Statistics quoted to support the introduction of this technology, include: 94% of crashes in the U.S. involve human error and $594 billion in harm from loss of life and injury each year. Waymo’s self-driving system is designed to operate without any human driver. When the hardware and software is implemented, it will perform all driving function.
The report includes an overview of the pre-built maps, sensors and software that surround this technology. The safety process began with identifying potential hazardous scenarios and what could be done to reduce risk.
Google addressed five areas of safety for driverless vehicles:
Behavior Safety – how are driving decision made.
Functional Safety – vehicles must operate safely at all times, even if there is a system fault or failure.
Crash Safety – vehicles must protect the passengers inside in the event of a car crash. These vehicles must meet safety standards.
Operational Safety – consumers must have a safe experience inside a driverless vehicle.
Non-Collision Safety – Physical safety for the range of people who may interact with the vehicle.
Are driverless vehicles safe?
While Google’s report was an overview of everything they are doing to ensure safety, the question remains, are these autonomous vehicles safe? AAA released a study on public perception of driverless vehicles earlier this year. AAA found that although majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technology in their next vehicle, they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Most noteworthy, three quarters of U.S. drivers reported feeling afraid to drive in a self driving car and only 10 percent said they’d feel safer sharing the road with driverless cars. This public feeling about driverless vehicle technology and safety will be a major hurdle to overcome in the widespread introduction of these cars and trucks.
Personal injury safety concerns of driverless vehicles
First of all, an education of the driver would be required. Although the vehicle is driving itself once the computer takes over, a driver must still be educated in safe operation.
Because driverless vehicles would be coming from many different companies, they must somehow be connected to work together and share the road together for optimum safety. This will not be an easy task.
A self-driving vehicle does not guarantee safety. In the event of a car accident, who would be liable? This needs to be addressed.
How will self driving cars and trucks operate in various weather conditions? Would snow and rain affect the sensors and impact vehicle safety.
Furthermore, how will road hazards impact driving? If a roadblock or construction zone goes up suddenly. If dangers exist on a road such as potholes, debris or other dangers.
The danger of other outside influences. What happens if there is a power outage and a stop light is not working properly?
The threat of the vehicle computer being hacked. This can pose a real danger to those inside the vehicle and also around it.
Autonomous vehicles are on the way to a road near you and the car accident lawyers at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen hope that safety is a top priority as these vehicles are introduced. In conclusion, public safety must be a primary focus of federal legislators as they introduce laws regarding driverless cars and driverless trucks.
Hit and run accidents, like the deadly crash that killed a man riding his bicycle on a Scranton sidewalk on Sunday morning, are happening all too frequently in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. Just today, a motorcyclist was killed in a hit and run accident in Philadelphia. The impact so strong when the motorcycle was hit by an SUV, that the victim’s body was thrown about 30 feet. Hit and run accidents can be deadly, especially when involving a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist. They are tragic for the victims of these crashes, and also for their families.
2015 Traffic Crash Facts
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report this week stating that traffic accident fatalities were up sharply in 2015. 2,348 more people died in traffic accidents in 2015 than in 2014. A total of 35,092 people were killed in crashes. This a 7% increase over the previous year, the largest increase in traffic crash fatalities in nearly 50 years. The number of those injured in crashes increased to 2.44 million people. Hit and run accidents have been on the increase with other crashes.
Bicyclist fatalities rose by 12.2%
Pedestrian fatalities rose by 9.5%
Motorcyclist fatalities rose by 8.3%
Pennsylvania Hit and Run Accident Laws
When a truck, SUV or car hits something smaller, it can have tragic results. Leaving the scene of a hit and run accident is illegal. When you are involved in an accident, you are required to stop. Failure to do so can result in considerable penalties.
Kevin’s law was passed in 2014. The law was named for Kevin Miller, a 5-year-old boy who was killed by a hit and run driver on a Wilkes-Barre Street. With the law, penalties became stricter for those who flee the scene of fatal hit and run accidents. The law also fixed a loophole when it comes to DUI hit and run cases. DUI seems to be a major factor for drivers fleeing the scene of a hit and run crash.
Kevin’s Law increased the mandatory minimum prison sentence for fleeing the scene of fatal accident to 3 years. This sentence is now on par with the 3-year sentence for DUI homicide. This closed the loophole under which leaving the scene of a fatal accident carried a lesser minimum sentence than DUI homicide. Continuing to impose stricter penalties on those who flee the scene of these deadly accidents may save lives. It may also result in a safer environment for pedestrians and others.
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident or another car accident or truck accident, call the car accident attorneys at Distasio Kowaslski in Wilkes-Barre today at 570-970-5400. You need an attorney who is experienced and is going to fight to get you the justice you deserve.
Six wrong way crashes near Wilkes-Barre in Northeast Pennsylvania in a little over a year has gotten the attention of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot). Twelve vehicle accident fatalities occurred in four of those crashes on Pennsylvania highways. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Safety Administration, wrong way driving crashes result in 300 to 400 people killed each year in the United States on average. Because wrong way crashes often involve head-on high speed crashes, they tend to be more severe, causing serious injuries and fatalities.
This week, PennDot began a $778,000 Safety and Wrong Way Crash Improvement Project in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. The road safety improvements are expected to be completed by September 2016. The project will include adding additional signage, warning drivers of Wrong Way and Do Not Enter on off-ramps. It will also include upgrading reflectivity of current signs. According to PennDot, the work will occur at non-signalized off ramps on interstates 80, 81, 84 and the Casey Highway. PennDot will also add high friction surface treatments on certain sections of SR 309 in Luzerne County.
Tips to protect yourself from wrong way crashes
Be sure everything in your vehicle is operating correctly, including horn and lights.
Always wear your seat belt and be sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.
Be aware of the road around you and scan the road in front of you as far as you can see. Watch for vehicles ahead of you breaking or swerving.
If you see a wrong way driver coming at you, flash your lights and honk your horn.
Pull over as quickly and safely as you can, to get out of the path of the wrong way driver.
Call 911 and report the wrong way driver and the location.
Alcohol is often a factor in wrong way crashes – Never drink and drive.
The accident attorneys at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen represent the innocent victims of head on collisions and wrong way crashes near Wilkes-Barre. The Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen law firm has represented hundreds of car, truck and other auto accident victims in Wilkes-Barre and throughout Northeast Pennsylvania.