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Do autonomous driving technologies make driving safer?

Florida Governor Rick Scott took one of the first rides in the Audi A7, which is equipped with newly developed autonomous driving technology. Governor Scott made the high-profile test drive on a stretch of public road on a hot July day to make a point: his state is open for business. Governors Scott has made Florida one of only four states that allows on-road testing of autonomous drive technology, and that will hopefully bring technology jobs into Florida. 

Audi, as well as other automobile manufacturers, has developed what are sometimes referred to as “auto assist systems.” Your Denver personal injury attorney explains that these systems help the car perform certain functions on its own–thus the “autonomous” part of the technology. For instance, the “Pilot driving” assist can be activated when the car is stuck in a traffic jam or commuting in rush hour–anytime the vehicle is traveling under 40mph. The Pilot driving assist makes sure that the car maintains a predetermined distance from the car in front, and senses lane markers on the road. The assist also reacts to the cars in surrounding lanes and can read the speed limits along the side of the road. The driver can relax a bit, and take his or her hands off the steering wheel and foot off the brake. Whenever the driver puts a hand back on the steering wheel, the Pilot assist is de-activated and manual control resumes. 

What if the driver gets too relaxed and starts to fall asleep? The Pilot assist has built-in safety features which make this impossible: if a driver’s eyes close for 10 seconds, a loud beeping noise sounds, the car comes to a complete stop and the hazard lights turn on. Your Denver personal injury attorney points out that not only does the Pilot assist help drivers avoid the all-too-common fender benders in frustrating traffic congestion, but the technology can also prevent driver fatigue from causing accidents as well.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, announced that two autonomous drive technologies developed by Nissan will be ready for production in 2016: a traffic jam pilot, and an automatic parking system. An autonomous lane-changing feature is expected to be ready in 2018, and a smart-assist technology allowing cars to negotiate city intersections is predicted by 2020. Mr. Ghosn distinguished between autonomous drive technologies and autonomous vehicles, stating that the former were becoming reality while the latter may never be. The goal of autonomous drive technology is to leave the driver in control, but to assist with the routine functions of driving (parking, backing up), and increase the safety of certain situations (traffic congestion, lane changes). One of the major demands for the technology is due to the increasing congestion in the emerging “mega-cities” across the country, as more and more people move toward urban centers. The other major demand for the technology is the safety features it offers, since the number of seniors driving is growing due to the aging boomer population. 

For more information on the car accidents associated with traffic congestion and driver fatigue, consult your Denver personal injury attorney Jordan Levine at Levine Law today.

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