Talking Cars: New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys at Console & Hollawell P.C. Wonder if New Tech Really Promotes Safety

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As part of an 18-month project funded by the federal government, automakers are equipping 3,000 public and private passenger vehicles to communicate with each other and a road infrastructure system, according to the Detroit News. In New Jersey, one of the most traffic-congested states in the nation, Passaic County personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr., raises concerns about liability in collisions.

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On the surface it seems like an amazing tool to reduce accidents, but what happens if it malfunctions? Driver safety has to be the most important issue when implementing these features; otherwise the dangers could outweigh the benefits.

Cars may not talk to drivers in the future, but they could talk to each other. As part of an 18-month project funded by the federal government, automakers are equipping 3,000 public and private passenger vehicles to communicate with each other and a road infrastructure system, according to the Detroit News*. This technology can reportedly allow vehicles to tell one another when they’re braking suddenly or when cars are following too closely and presumably warn drivers to reduce speeds. Beginning in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Safety Pilot Model Deployment uses 73 miles of pre-selected roads in the city. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is directing this small study. The results may have large implications for how automakers create passenger vehicles going forward. In New Jersey, one of the most traffic-congested states in the nation,Passaic County personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr., raises concerns about liability in collisions.

“There’s cause for concern with this new technology,” said Console. “On the surface it seems like an amazing tool to reduce accidents, but what happens if it malfunctions? Vehicles suddenly braking on the highway pose a significant risk for crashes. Driver safety has to be the most important issue when implementing these features; otherwise the dangers could outweigh the benefits.”

In 2011, there were 586 fatal accidents in New Jersey resulting in the deaths of 627 people, according to the New Jersey State Police. That total was the highest number of lives lost on New Jersey roadways in the last three years. As of September 2012, accidents in the state have resulted in 387 deaths.

Automakers have equipped vehicles involved in the Ann Arbor study, many supplied by volunteers, with multiple communication devices designed to allow vehicles to share information many onboard computers already record, including speed and miles traveled. Console and his team of Middlesex County personal injury attorneys see the benefits of increased communication between cars, but wonder how the technology can work with existing models.

“The technology, while it’s still in its infancy, can really only help if both vehicles involved are able to communicate,” he said. “Older model cars may not be able to benefit. If this is a truly life-saving improvement, giving all drivers access to it would seem to be the larger goal.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration** plans to use data acquired from the Safety Pilot study to decide how to continue with additional connected-vehicle technology activities. The NHTSA could implement future manufacturing rules for automakers based on the study’s results.

Console & Hollawell P.C. is a New Jersey personal injury law firm with offices throughout the state. Since 1994, the firm has helped more than 5,000 clients obtain compensation for their injuries and related damages.

** http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2012/DOT+Launches+Largest-Ever+Road+Test+of+Connected+Vehicle+Crash+Avoidance+Technology

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