Although there have been occasional spikes in reported car accidents, the overall number of motor vehicle crashes—and resulting injuries and deaths—has declined steadily over the past decade. One of the big reasons for this progressive drop is emerging safety technology.
While safety features like air bags, antilock brakes, voice controls and crash-avoidance systems have played roles in reducing the number and severity of motor vehicle collisions, traffic accidents are still a long way from being a thing of the past. The Denver personal injury lawyers at the Frickey Law Firm are dedicated to helping accident victims seek the financial peace of mind they need to cope with injuries and other damages, and move forward with their lives. If you were hurt or a family member was killed in an auto accident, please call 303-237-7373 to arrange your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.
Following is a brief look at recent technological advancements that are affecting motor vehicle safety, as well as how accident victims pursue claims.
Event Data Recorders
One of the great advancements in vehicle safety technology in recent years is the addition to vehicles of an event data recorder (EDR), which shares some similarities with the black box devices used in airplanes and trains.
Although motor vehicle EDRs don’t record verbal communications (at least not yet), they do capture important data about their vehicles and the nature of crashes when accidents occur. EDRs can detect:
- Whether driver, passenger and curtain airbags deployed
- Vehicle speed and engine throttle just prior to and during the collision
- Whether driver and passenger seatbelts were in use
- The point or points of impact to your vehicle
EDRs are not currently required by law, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed rules that would require them on all passenger vehicles in the future. EDRs are already standard on many cars; according to the NHTSA, more than 90 percent of light passenger vehicles are equipped with EDRs.
EDRs and the information they store are the property of the vehicle owner, but police, insurance assessors, automakers and others may access this data without owner consent. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that external access to EDRs may be gained through a court order. Insurance providers may also be able to access EDRs in their policyholders’ vehicles based on provisions in your individual insurance contract, according to the IIHS. As EDRs become more widespread, some states have moved to prohibit insurance policies from requiring policyholders to consent to EDR access.
In Colorado, EDR data can be used in the pursuit of accident claims, including in court. The information contained in EDRs is often beneficial in better understanding the precise circumstances of the accident and assessing fault.
EDRs can be advantageous following a collision, but in recent years a number of systems designed to prevent crashes have moved from limited luxury models to a spectrum of fleet vehicles.
Available crash-avoidance features include:
- Lane-departure detection
- Blind-spot warnings
- Parking-assistance systems
- Front-collision prevention warnings
- Adaptive headlights
Advancements have also been made in older safety features, including:
- Antilock brakes
- Safety belts
- Electronic-stability control
A number of companies, from traditional auto manufacturers to technology firms, are also developing self-driving cars. Among the hoped-for benefits of self-driving vehicles is a further reduction in accidents caused by fatigued driving or distracted driving.
The Future of Accident Claims
As these safety technologies evolve, so will the way accident claims are handled by insurance providers and through the court system. More importantly, so will the number of people hurt or killed in auto accidents.
In just a few years, front-crash prevention systems, condition-responsive headlights and other advanced technologies are already demonstrating success in preventing accidents, limiting collision severity, and reducing insurance claims. Over the past decade, the numbers of crashes and crash-related deaths per person and per mile driven have steadily declined, according to the NHTSA. Citing research from the Highway Loss Data Institute, the IIHS reports that fewer claims have been sought under property damage liability coverage for vehicles with front-collision warning systems and automatic-braking technology.
Perhaps some day, accidents that result in injuries or wrongful death will be a thing of the past. Until that time arrives, however, it’s still advisable to discuss your situation with an attorney if you were hurt or a family member was killed in a crash. Initial insurance company settlement offers are often inadequate for the actual damages suffered by injury victims, and a skilled lawyer can help you recover the financial security you need. The accomplished personal injury attorneys at the Frickey Law Firm are avid followers of the automotive industry and its emerging safety technologies, as well as understanding what these new features mean for you.
If you were injured in a car accident, please contact the Frickey Law Firm or call us at 303-237-7373. Our lawyers are proud to represent injury victims from Lakewood and the greater Denver area.