Shareholder James R. Ronca and Partner Ryan D. Hurd of Anapol Weiss co-authored an article published in The Legal Intelligencer on January 15, 2020 titled, Liability for Failure to Include Collision Avoidance Systems. Ronca and Hurd argue that safety should not be optional for motor vehicles, and statistics show that safety systems in cars, trucks and tractor-trailers save lives.
Ronca and Hurd explain the history of safety systems and laws for motor vehicles, beginning seventy years ago with the advent of the seat belt. Technology is often available long before it is mandated, even when shown to improve vehicle safety and protect drivers. Today, technology has become more digital and automated, but certain safety features are still not required.
Product liability cases that go to trial and win in favor of the plaintiff often pave the way for new laws that enhance consumer safety moving forward. Juries have a say in liability of failure to include safety systems in vehicles.
The article goes on to explain key questions counsel should ask in evaluating automobile collision cases, and offers examples of cases that had important ramifications for crashworthiness litigation.
Currently, about half of new vehicles are equipped with frontal collision avoidance technology (FCAT). This shows a promising increase in car safety systems, yet also a dearth of universal systems. In 2016, coalition of 20 automakers agreed to make almost all new cars have automatic emergency braking systems by late 2022.
Vehicle safety statistics at a glance:
- Seat belts decreased the number of crash fatalities in a car by 45% and serious injuries by more than 50%*
- Airbags saved more than 50,000 lives between 1987 and 2017*
- In frontal crashes, airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29%*
- The combination of an airbag plus a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of death in frontal crashes by 61%*
- Forward collision warning systems with autobrake decreased rear-end collisions with injuries by 56%**
- Lane departure warning technology decreased single vehicle sideswipe and head-on crashes with injury by 21%**
- Blind spot detection reduced land-change crashes with injuries by 23%**
- Almost half of all two-vehicle crashes involved a rear-end collision, claiming ~1,700 lives annually and causing ~500,000 injuries*
*According to The National Transportation Safety Board (NHTSA)
**According to a recent study by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)