Car Accident Lawyers Weigh In On Driver-Assist Technologies

There is no doubt that technology has had a significant impact on the driving experience. Many new vehicles come equipped with an array of tech-based features – such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane assist technology – that did not exist a decade ago. The car accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP continually monitor new driver-assist technologies and related legislative changes, as both usher in important implications for insurance claims and personal injury law.


Rear-view cameras now mandatory on new vehicles in Canada
For example, our car accident lawyers have noted an important change with respect to rear-view cameras: the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations have been amended so that as of May 2018, all new cars and small trucks sold in Canada will need to be equipped with a rear-view camera. Transport Canada is of the view that the improved rear-view visibility will enhance safety for road users behind backing-up vehicles and want to align Canadian safety regulation with US law (US safety regulations were also amended to require vehicle manufacturers and importers to improve rear-view visibility for all new light duty vehicles made after May 1, 2018). 


Driver-assist technologies solve and cause problems
Most of the new technologies have the potential to reduce collision rates – but only if drivers actually use them properly. But that may not always be happening: despite high-tech safety features in new cars, the crash rate in BC has spiked since 2013. It may be that drivers mistakenly believe that automated driving aids completely protect them. In one US study, more than 30 percent of survey respondents incorrectly believed their cars were so advanced, “they can pretty much drive themselves.” 


Relaxed sense of responsibility and erosion of driving skills
Driver-assist technologies are intended to improve safety when used in conjunction with or as an overlay on a driver’s good driving skills, but they appear to be having unintended consequences. Technology-based safety features tend to relax a driver’s sense of responsibility, making drivers lazy and less attentive. They may also eventually erode driving skills. For example:
• Rear-view cameras have blind spots and the image on the dashboard screen does not show the driver what is coming from the side or elsewhere. Yet the data suggests that drivers in vehicles equipped with a rear-view camera tend to stop doing circle checks of their vehicle before backing up and will only watch the dashboard screen.
• Blind spot warning systems use sensors to detect hazards such as other vehicles in the driver and passenger side blind spots, and alerts drivers with audio warnings or steering wheel vibrations. This may make drivers less likely to shoulder check. Drivers may become accustomed to thinking they do not need to look for themselves.
• Lane departure warning systems are designed to warn the driver when the vehicle begins to move out of its lane unless a turn signal is on in that direction. The warning system is intended to minimize accidents caused by driver error, distractions, and drowsiness. But many drivers are abusing the lane assist warning system and assuming it allows them to take their eyes off the road (for example, to text while driving). What is more, when drivers were tested using a driver simulator, the lane-keeping skills of drivers dropped with the introduction of lane assist.


Car accident lawyers’ tips for safe use of driver-assist technologies
With many driver-assist technologies such as rear-view cameras now becoming standard, the onus is still on each driver to understand what their vehicle can and cannot do and to never forget that even the most technologically advanced vehicle does not replace the safety basics and good driving practices learned in driving school. Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual so that you understand how your vehicle’s features operate (before you hit the road) and be clear about the limitations of technologies like brake assist and rear-view cameras. If you would like to know more about the latest vehicle safety features, have a look at BrainOnBoard.ca, a website devoted to helping Canadians learn more about safety technology and its limitations. If you have questions about how technology is impacting personal injury law or your personal injury insurance claim, contact Bronson Jones & Company LLP at 1-855-852-5100 for a free initial consultation.


Legal Guidance & More, from Injury to Recovery
Bronson Jones & Company LLP exclusively represents victims of motor vehicle accidents, and that’s all we do! Unlike other law firms which deal with everything from dog bites to divorce, Bronson Jones has built more than 30 years of trial experience and in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents.
We’ve also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Additionally, such reports may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.

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