Safety features in cars seem to increase with each new model year. From seat belts to backup cameras, to lane-keeping assistance systems, safety features aren’t just selling points or for peace of mind. They can have a major impact on your personal injury case. Here, we’ll detail what some of the latest safety features are and why they matter from a legal perspective.
Car Safety Features Can Prevent or Reduce the Severity of Injuries
Using a safety feature can avoid an injury, reduce its severity, or prevent death if you’re in an accident. Not wearing a seatbelt, for example, can therefore be a significant factor in a personal injury case. Seat belts were introduced in the 1930s and made mandatory in 1968; they’ve been improved with features like pretensions to allow natural movement and adjustable anchors to accommodate different user heights. Far too many drivers still don’t use them. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 51% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2020 weren’t wearing seat belts.
Other Types of Safety Features
Airbags, shatter-resistant glass, bumpers, mirrors, tire pressure monitors, traction control, and LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) have been around years. Given their ability to prevent or reduce injuries, they can have an impact on damages awarded in a case. Here’s a look at some of the latest safety features in cars and their significance:
- Forward Collision Warning: Forward-facing sensors use distance monitoring and detect relative speed between vehicles to determine if a crash is imminent; if so, the system alerts the driver who can react accordingly.
- Blind Spot Detection: A visual alert indicates if something is present in a blind spot, which can hide vehicles, people, and objects behind the vehicle’s A-pillars. Depending on the system, it may also trigger the brakes or steering controls.
- Backup Cameras: Provide a view behind the vehicle so a driver can avoid collisions when parking or going in reverse. A backup camera may be complemented with a back over protection system that automatically brakes the car if necessary.
- Lane Departure Warning: A camera near the rearview mirror is often used to track a car’s position in the lane. If you start swerving, moving toward the edge of the lane, or try to merge without signaling, you’ll get an alert.
- Lane-Keeping Assist/Lane-Centering Assist: Lane-Keeping Assist takes it a step further by using the steering system or brakes if the vehicle starts to cross the lane unless the turn signal is activated. Lane-Centering Assist works with adaptive cruise control to keep the vehicle centered in the lane and oftentimes helps steer around curves.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert: Uses radar or ultrasonic sensors on the rear bumper to alert you of approaching vehicles. The system is triggered when backing up or reversing a vehicle to leave a parking spot or driveway.
- Traffic Sign Recognition: A camera identifies road signs and the system processes images to display important ones on a screen or display. It prioritizes speed limit, stop, slow, yield, pedestrian crossing, school zone, curve ahead, and other pertinent signs.
- Night Vision: In addition to headlights, night vision in cars is gaining popularity. A passive system senses heat and translates it to a black-and-white image, while an active system uses infrared light sources to display an illuminated image of the road ahead on a monitor.
- Telematics: Can make calls to emergency responders and use GPS tracking, cell phone service, and data from the vehicle’s computer. Telematics can also remotely unlock your car, provide directions, or locate your vehicle. More sophisticated services usually require a subscription.
- Driver-Attention/Drowsiness Monitor: A camera-/sensor-based system that can track a driver’s eye movements, eyelid activity, and head position. Other systems look at driving patterns such as lane drifting and signs of fatigue, microsleep, and other potential contributors to liability.
- Semi-Autonomous Driving: Combines various driving assistance systems to aid in accelerating, steering, braking, or changing lanes while the driver’s hands are on the wheel. Some vehicles can park themselves if equipped to do so.
- Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication: This hi-tech solution is being studied by the NHTSA as of 2022. It communicates with other cars to provide warnings of oncoming traffic when turning left or alert a driver when approaching a dangerous intersection.
Safety Features and Car Manufacturer Liability
A safety feature can be a factor in your case if it did not prevent an injury or somehow worsened an injury sustained in a car accident. Some manufacturers don’t include certain safety features despite knowing their effectiveness. The car company can be sued if it neglected to integrate a feature and your attorney or insurance company determines this caused you harm.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provides ratings based on vehicle crash performance and safety features in cars. It’s a good idea to compare IIHS vehicle safety ratings when shopping around. Each car’s rating can impact the cost to insure it. The vehicle’s rating can ultimately be a factor in your car accident personal injury case.
Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
Vehicle defects, speeding, failure to signal, inattention, driving at unsafe distances, and making illegal turns are examples of driver negligence. Many of the latest safety features in cars can help prevent these. In California, if you’re at all responsible for an accident, compensation can be reduced relative to your level of fault. This can reduce any financial damages awarded in your case, which is why you need an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney who will fight for maximum compensation.
To schedule your free case consultation and learn more about how we can help, call 888-952-2952 today!