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Car Accidents

Traffic accidents on backroads

Many people realize the risks associated with driving in urban areas, on freeways and in other places that see a lot of traffic. However, we know that traffic accident risks are present in rural areas, including backroads that see very little traffic. In some cases, these roads are not even paved, but that does not mean that the possibility of a crash is not present. Moreover, while many of the accidents that do occur in these areas are relatively minor, some are very serious and result in debilitating injuries or the loss of life.

First of all, it is important to realize some of the reasons why backroads are especially dangerous in certain instances. For one, drivers do not always expect to encounter other vehicles while driving in a secluded area, so they drive too fast around turns or fail to pay attention to the road. Also, backroads often see large amounts of debris and road hazards, such as potholes, fallen trees, tree limbs and so on. During certain times of the year, such as the winter, driving on a backroad is very dangerous. Moreover, roads that are not paved often create concerns regarding visibility when a lot of dust is kicked up.

In addition, those hurt on backroads often face serious challenges. For example, when cell phone reception is poor and a backroad is located in a very isolated area, some victims have difficulty getting the urgent help they need. These are just a few of the concerns associated with motor vehicle collisions that occur on backroads and we cover other topics related to recovering from a crash on our site.

How semi-autonomous cars are distracting drivers

Inattentive and distracted driving are serious threats to road safety in Texas, and unfortunately, newer technology may be contributing to the trend. For example, though there are car features that can detect when drivers are distracted and react accordingly, such as by adjusting climate control settings and seat positions, other features are making drivers inattentive through complacency.

Semi-autonomous cars are at the center of the issue as drivers tend to have slower reaction times in these cars, according to the Journal of Safety Research. Drivers feel that the car safety features are advanced enough to foresee any dangers for them and that they can consequently pay less attention to the road. This can even lead to the development of bad driving habits like phone use.

The reality, of course, is that semi-autonomous cars come with driver assistance technology, not technology that outright replaces drivers. Drivers are still expected to stay alert behind the wheel.

This is not the only problem facing semi-autonomous cars. AI programs can lag when faced with so much data input and possible scenarios with every situation on the road, and this lag, though it may last only a second or two, can endanger anyone traveling at high speeds. Cameras and sensors are not perfect either and can fail to detect vehicles in blind spots.

Distracted driving contributes to thousands of car crashes every year, some of them fatal. Those who survive such a crash may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. They may find that the other side is willing to negotiate a settlement out of court, or they may face opposition from the start. This is one reason why victims may want a lawyer representing them and protecting their rights. A successful claim might cover both monetary and non-monetary damages.

Finding out who is accountable for a multi-car crash

When multi-car crashes occur in Texas, one of the first things that victims will need to do is find out who was liable. The following information may help them do this and thus speed up the filing of a claim.

It all starts with knowing what negligence is. In a driver, this can range from speeding and tailgating to distracted driving and drunk or drugged driving. When drivers fail to exercise reasonable care on the road, they are negligent. In multi-vehicle crashes, it’s obvious that negligence may be spread out between multiple drivers.

For example, Driver A is rear-ended by a tailgating Driver B, but Driver B is, in turn, rear-ended by an inattentive Driver C. Both B and C contributed to the force of the impact against Driver A’s vehicle, so Driver A may pursue a claim against both. Even Driver B might be able to file against Driver C.

Sometimes, of course, there may be an innocent driver caught in the middle. Driver B may be forced into Driver A by the negligence of Driver C, in which case A can only hold C responsible.

Gathering evidence is crucial to determining fault. This can range from the police report and drivers’ phone records to any eyewitness testimony or physical findings at the crash site.

Under the comparative negligence rule in Texas, victims of car collisions can be eligible for compensatory damages as long as their degree of fault does not exceed the defendant’s. If they did contribute to their own injuries, such as by failing to wear a seatbelt, then whatever plaintiffs do recover will be proportionally lowered. To ensure a good settlement, victims may want to retain a lawyer. The lawyer might speak on their behalf during negotiations or during the trial.

Vehicle safety systems causing distracted driving

Self-driving cars may not be a regular sight on Texas roads yet, but car manufacturers are automating more and more vehicle systems. As the world transitions to fully autonomous vehicles, drivers are beginning to overestimate the capabilities of the autonomous technologies in their cars. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers with safety technologies in their cars such as lane-keeping assist are more likely to engage in distracted driving habits.

photo of the inside of a car with computer screen and technology
Person driving a new electric vehicle from inside

The AAA study looked at driving footage involving a range of car models equipped with 30 different infotainment systems. According to researchers, all of the infotainment systems caused the drivers to be distracted to some degree. Drivers who were not as familiar with the vehicle systems were less distracted than drivers who had more experience using the systems. Two of the driving systems tested were found to make drivers almost twice as likely to be distracted as drivers who did not use them.

Technologies like adaptive cruise control are supposed to prevent accidents, but they are not meant to replace a human driver. While using autonomous technologies, drivers are still supposed to keep their hands on the wheel and stay alert. A spokesperson for AAA said that the study indicates that many drivers are using safety systems incorrectly, though the systems themselves are not inherently dangerous.

A driver who crashes their car while using an autonomous safety technology may still be liable for the accident. In some motor vehicle accidents, a vehicle manufacturer could have partial liability due to malfunctioning safety technology. A lawyer might be able to help a car accident victim to file a claim for compensation in an accident involving a self-driving or partially-autonomous vehicle.

Proposed bill may mandate alcohol detection systems on all cars

Drunk driving is a nationwide issue, as Texas residents know, but a bill has been proposed that could do something to curb the problem. If implemented, the RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone) Act of 2019 would take steps to mandate alcohol detection systems on all newly manufactured vehicles by 2024. It would fund research and development toward this end and establish a pilot program before implementation.

Though the bill did not specify whether development teams were to work off of existing technology, there’s no doubt that it was inspired by the success of the ignition interlock device, a breathalyzer attached to the car’s ignition system. Many states require DUI offenders to install these devices in their cars. IIDs prevent a vehicle from starting if they detect BAC levels above the legal limit of .08.

Not all the kinks have been worked out of IIDs, of course, as there can sometimes be false positives. While someone other than the driver could initially breathe into the IID, the device does require “rolling samples” while the car is in motion. This means the driver eventually has to do the breathing.

In 2018, IIDs prevented nearly 348,000 attempts on the part of drunk motorists to start their cars. Since 2006, they have prevented roughly 3 million of these attempts.

Until these devices become more widespread, there is always the risk for motor vehicle crashes caused by drunk drivers. Such drivers will face not only criminal charges but also personal injury claims. As for the victims who wish to file such a claim, they may want a lawyer for legal guidance. If hired, the lawyer may take the necessary steps to build the case up before proceeding to negotiations. The goal is to achieve a fair settlement out of court.