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Are “smart” cars making us smarter drivers?

Posted at 3:11 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 17:11:47-04

"Smart" is a buzzword adjective.  Phones can be smart, so can TV's, homes and our cars.

When it comes to cars "smart" can be defined as an automobile with advanced electronics including lane change alerts, stabilizing sensors, backup cameras, and assisted parking all the way up to the fully autonomous cars of today.

We invited Personal Injury Attorney Craig Swapp from Craig Swapp & Associates on the show to talk about smart cars.  Swapp says some smart car technology has helped decrease the number and severity of injuries caused by accidents.

One of the technology that's helping is "Electronic Stability Control" or ESC  It's a system of sensors in a car's steering system to compare the driver's intentions against other vehicle sensors and take corrective actions if necessary.  ESC is mandatory in all new cars since 2012, and Swapp says studies have shown that drivers with ESC-equipped cars involved in single-car accidents are 75 percent more likely to survive those accidents than drivers who don't have ESC.

Swapp says another important technology is lane departure warning systems.  Those warning systems have cut the rate of all vehicle accidents by at least 11 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

It's not all good news however.  Swapp says there have been multiple reports about autonomous vehicles causing accidents.  Swapp says, "In fact, just recently in Utah, we had a situation where a 'semi-automated' car ran into the back of fire truck, injuring the car's driver. According to reports, the vehicle was in 'autopilot' and the driver was consumed by their mobile phone when the accident occurred."

Swapp says even when these vehicles are on 'autopilot' the driver still needs to be cognizant of what`s happening on the road. Drivers in these autonomous and semi-autonomous cars need to stay focused on the road, avoiding distractions like cell phones, tablets, laptops, books, movies and other passengers. In other words, these technologies may lull drivers into a dangerous inattentive attitude behind the wheel.

Surprisingly back-up cameras may also cause drivers to be inattentive.  The reality is, the cameras don't capture everything going on behind a car and nothing can substitute a driver doing their due diligence by physically looking around their vehicles while in reverse.

Swapp says the bottom line is, that while new technology is a good thing for driver safety, it's important to never let go of the safety essentials of always physically checking blind spots and keeping eyes on the road.  It's ultimately the responsibility of the driver and not the car to maintain safety.

If you would like more information, or if you have been involved in an accident, please contact Craig Swapp at 1-800-404-9000 or visit: