Autonomous Systems Detecting Driver Distractions

Personal Injury Attorneys

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every day 1,000 people are injured in distracted driving accidents. One of the major causes of distracted driving is texting and driving. Despite the fact that many states have implemented bans on texting and driving, many drivers admit to engaging in the dangerous practice. Some car manufacturers and developers believe that they can make roads safer by making all vehicles autonomous. Yet, government regulations and safety standards have yet to catch up to make that a reality. Instead, some vehicles offer partial autonomy or driver correction systems that can act in the event of an emergency.

While driverless technology has advanced greatly in recent years, manufacturers face a serious dilemma. Should vehicles be entirely autonomous? Or should vehicles be partially autonomous, with a human driver expected to be alert to intervene should a dangerous situation arise? While the technology currently exists for partial autonomy, many car manufacturers are concerned about what they call the “handoff problem.” When drivers get comfortable with their vehicles driving themselves, drivers tend to focus on things other than the road. They check their cell phones, they put on makeup, they watch videos. Should an emergency arise when a driver is distracted; he or she won’t be ready to take the wheel, which could result in a car accident.

Wired recently reported on a car that may be able to solve the problem. According to Wired, Cadillac has invented a feature it calls the “Super Cruise.” The autonomous system is robust. It has military-grade GPS, a front-facing camera, and radars to keep the car in its lane. It is considered capable of handling any divided highway in the U.S. or Canada. However, it remains a semi-autonomous system, meaning that drivers need to be paying attention while behind the wheel. While most vehicles simply require a human actor to nudge the wheel, the “Super Cruise” takes its tracking camera technology to the next level. It tracks a user’s head motions, with the camera allegedly able to “know” when a driver is not paying attention to the road. In other words, the car knows when a driver is checking his or her phone.

What happens if a driver fails to pay attention? The car issues a warning and, if the driver doesn’t respond within a given period of time; the car’s warning lights turn on, the vehicle slows to a stop, and OnStar calls for help. The system sounds like an excellent solution to the hand-off problem, but one wonders about the risk of suddenly finding dozens of stopped cars in the middle of the street.

Perhaps similar technologies could be utilized to warn drivers when the car detects that they are checking their phones and not paying attention to the road? With so many people injured in distracted driving accidents, any additional layer that shifts attention back to the road where it should be would be a good idea.

Until new technology offers a real solution to our addiction to our phones, we are likely to continue to see distracted driving accidents. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash, you may have important rights under the law.

To schedule a Strategy Session to discuss your accident claim, contact the Attorneys for Freedom Law Firm at 480-755-7110 or online at AttorneysForFreedom.com. Our experienced accident attorneys are standing by to assist you.

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