Experts Warn Self-Driving Cars Are Not Safe

The Associated Press recently reported on a meeting hosted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding self driving cars. Experts, including multiple engineers, spoke at the meeting and warned officials that self-driving vehicles still pose safety risks. The experts urged the NHTSA to issue regulations on self-driving vehicles as soon as possible as the technology is already been put out on the road unregulated.

James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by “bad actors.”

“The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials,” he said.

Some of the safety issues the experts believe self-driving vehicles cannot handle include:

—Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.

—Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.

—Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.

—Inconsistent traffic-control devices — horizontal versus lateral traffic lights, for example.

“It is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them (self-driving vehicles),” said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

It will be interesting to see if and when the NHTSA will react to these concerns and issue regulations. It is clear self-driving cars are not safe to put on the road and they should be restricted until the proper software has been developed along with the much needed regulations.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Volkswagen Faces Massive Auto Recall

Earlier this month multiple media outlets, including MSNBC, reported that the Obama administration ordered a recall of almost 500,000 Volkswagen vehicles for intentional emission violations. The Environmental Protection Agency  (“EPA”) ordered its’ own vehicle issued the company a notice of violation and accused the company of breaking the law by installing software known as a “defeat device” in 4-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-15. The device is programmed to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and to only turn on full emissions control systems during that testing. Those controls are turned off during normal driving situations, when the vehicles pollute far more heavily than reported by the manufacturer.

This type of recall is different than the one we saw a few years back against Toyota, which was for unexpected acceleration issues. In that case, the danger was specifically towards drivers as car accidents were alleged to be caused by the sudden acceleration. The Volkswagen recall is specifically for damage done to the environment. “Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, E.P.A. is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. E.P.A. will continue to investigate these very serious violations.”

This is going to be a huge financial cost to Volkswagen. They are going to face lawsuits by both the EPA to repay the government for the damage to the environment. There will also be auto defect lawsuits filed by class action attorneys looking for reimbursement for the thousands of car owners based on the reduced value of their vehicles. The interesting issue here is that the actions by Volkswagen appear to be intentional. This could create additional fines and punishment requested by the EPA.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or injured by a Chicago auto defect, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Does Sneezing And Causing An Accident Fall Under The “Act of God” Defense

I have written over and over about the many things that can distract drivers. Of course, the most obvious is texting and phone use. Others have included everything for tooling with the radio to eating and driving. All of these activities can be very dangerous as all it takes is second or two of lost concentration for a car accident to occur.

The Chicago Sun Times reported some odd news last week when a semi-truck driver’s ill-timed sneeze sent his rig rolling onto its side Monday morning in northwest Indiana. The driver, a 48-year-old Hobart man, was not hurt in the crash, which happened on a ramp from State Route 249 to I-94 near Portage, according to Indiana State Police. As the driver entered the ramp, he started to sneeze, which caused the truck to run off the roadway and onto a grassy area where the rig rolled onto its side, State Police said.

Luckily there were no injuries to the driver and the roll over didn’t cause any other traffic accidents. I think it would be tough here to put any blame on the driver as this may fit into the “act of god” category rather than any negligence on his part. Similar “act of god” situations include suffering a heart attack, stroke or seizure while behind the wheel and causing a traffic accident. In these situations it is difficult to prove liability on the part of the driver who caused the accident, and often times defense attorneys are successful in dismissing claims or reducing liability when there is the “act of god” defense. Regardless, luckily no one was injured as this was a semi-truck accident.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago truck accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.