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Robotic Braking Could Save Lives on Kentucky Roads

Our Lexington personal injury lawyers report on robotic braking technology that could save lives on Kentucky roads.

Rear-end collisions are among the most common type of car accidents, accounting for more than 38 percent of all two-vehicle accidents in Kentucky in a recent year. An innovative new safety feature on the horizon may help drastically reduce rear-end collisions.

Ten of the world’s biggest auto manufacturers— Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo— recently committed that they will make automatic emergency braking a standard safety feature for all the vehicles they sell in the United States, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) press release.

Automatic emergency braking systems rely on vehicle sensors and radar to detect imminent auto accidents, alert the driver and slow the vehicle to avert a collision if the driver doesn’t act. Automatic brakes can compensate for a driver error or driver inattention.

A recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that automatic emergency braking can reduce insurance injury claims by 35 percent.

New Era of Auto Safety

Many vehicles already are equipped with safety features such as cruise control to match the speed of surrounding traffic, steering assistance with lane departure alerts, backup cameras, automatic high beams and electronic stability control.

This new braking technology advances automotive safety, using radar or lasers to detect potential crashes, warn the driver, and engage the brakes if the driver doesn’t stop. Considering those companies sold 57 percent of vehicles nationwide in 2014, this safety innovation could change the landscape of automotive safety dramatically over the course of several years.

Only one percent of 2015 models have standard automatic emergency braking, but the standardization of automatic braking will usher in a new era, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation said recently.

Bluegrass Impact

This technology could make a major difference in reducing the number of crashes and injury-related wrecks in Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police reported 151,180 total collisions across the Bluegrass State in 2014, up 3.6 percent from 145,974 in 2013, according to its Traffic Collision Report for 2014.

The state experienced a 2.5 percent increase in fatal crashes in 2014, leading to a total of 620 fatalities. Non-fatal injury crashes also increased to 22,958, up 0.4 percent over the previous year while those involving property damage only increased four percent to 103,756 from 99,800.

Pros and Cons

Depending on speed, rear-end wrecks can involve everything from fender benders to crashes that can kill people in both vehicles involved in the primary collision.

With more people looking away from the roadway to check mobile phones or dashboard communication systems, this type of technology could prove extremely useful because it always stays alert and never gets tired or distracted, IIHS President Adrian Lund points out.

Research by NHTSA found many drivers who caused rear-end crashes failed to hit the brakes or didn’t brake fully, problems that could be averted by robotic braking systems.

More than half of the 784 models to hit the road in 2015 came with standard or optional features capable of alerting drivers to an imminent crash, and more than a fourth of those offered automatic braking. But some packages costs thousands of dollars more, and there were no federally regulated standards governing them.

The federal agency is set to work with auto manufacturers on specifications for the braking systems and a timeline for rolling them out as standard features, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Regardless of whether this new safety feature eventually leads to self-driving vehicles, it should reduce auto accidents almost immediately, cut down on injuries and save lives. It’s a step in the right direction.

If you have been injured in a car accident by another driver in Kentucky, turn to a Lexington personal injury lawyer who will help you obtain the full compensation that you are due.