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Who is liable when self-driving cars hurt innocent victims?

In December, a self-driving Chevy Bolt in San Francisco collided with a motorcyclist who was attempting to pass the automated vehicle.  The injured motorcyclist is now suing General Motors, which manufactures the self-driving technology, saying that the automated vehicle was behaving unpredictably.

As self-driving technology is developed and tested on roads across the country, incidents like this are raising legal issues that will become increasingly important as driverless cars become more common.  Who is at fault when self-driving cars injure innocent people:  the person on board, the owner of the car, or the manufacturer of the technology?  To some extent, the answer depends on the level of automated vehicle technology in use at the time of the crash.

Wrecks caused by drunk drivers spike over holidays

The cold front that swept the nation at the end of 2017 made roads especially hazardous for holiday travelers.  However, one of the biggest dangers around the holiday season has nothing to do with the weather:  despite increased enforcement efforts, drunk drivers continue to cause a significant number of traffic crashes in Texas and across the nation.

From Dec. 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017, at least 82 people were killed in crashes related to drunk driving in Texas - about 25 percent of all traffic deaths during this period - and an additional 199 people were seriously injured, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.   A total of 2,321 DWI-related crashes were reported in the state during that period.

What Are The Safest Cars On The Road?

When it is time to buy a new car, many people focus on the fun features:  heated seats, the latest audio electronics, a cool color.  Safety may not always be the most attractive feature we are considering, but it should be a top priority.

In a previous blog post, we discussed the deadliest cars on the road, looking at the different vehicles the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found were more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.  Not surprisingly, smaller cars had higher rates of driver fatality.

Do You Have To Wear A Motorcycle Helmet In Texas?

There's no question that motorcycle helmets can save lives.  Still, many people choose to ride without a helmet - and this can be a perfectly legal decision in some states, including Texas.

This wasn't always the case.  In 1975, nearly every state required all motorcyclists to wear helmets because of a federal law that tied highway construction funding to helmet laws.  However, states began to chip away at their helmet laws after Congress ended the funding incentive in 1976.  Texas was one of the first states to repeal its universal helmet requirement in 1977, although it was later temporarily reinstated between 1989 and 1997.

Texas' New School Bus Seat Belt Law Aims To Keep Kids Safer

You would certainly never let your kids ride in your car without making sure they're properly wearing their seat belts.  However, most parents across the country send their children off to school on buses that don't even have seat belts.

This is slowly starting to change.  A new Texas law went into effect this September that requires new buses to have shoulder-to-lap seat belts installed in all seats.  Six other states have enacted similar laws in recent years.

What To Do If You Are Hit By An Uninsured Driver

Nobody feels lucky after a car wreck, but you may feel especially unfortunate if your wreck was caused by an uninsured driver.  Although every driver is required to have insurance, many still do not.  About 13 percent of Texas drivers do not carry insurance, according to recent data from the TexasSure vehicle insurance verification program.

It's important to remember that you still have the right to seek compensation after a car wreck, even if the other driver isn't insured.  Texas requires all car insurance companies to offer coverage for property and bodily damage caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers.  Unless you signed a written rejection slip denying it, you are afforded uninsured motorist coverage per Texas law.

U.S. Bike Fatality Rates Are Rising, Especially Among Adult Men

Who is more likely to be killed in a bike accident: a child or an adult?  The answer to this question has changed dramatically over the last 40 years.

In 1975, most victims of fatal bike accidents were children or teenagers.  Today, the opposite is true:  people over age 20 make up the vast majority of people killed while biking on U.S. roads, according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Administration that analyzed 40 years of data on bike fatalities.

Nearly One-Quarter Of Trucks On Texas Highways In Violation Of Safety Standards

An inspection blitz earlier this summer of more than 8,000 commercial vehicles by the Texas Department of Public Safety resulted in nearly 2,000 of them being placed out of service due to a wide range of violations.  This is a frightening reminder of the dangers that tractor trailers pose on Texas highways, in many cases because of negligence or blatant disregard of safety regulations by truck drivers and the companies that own these big rigs.

The report in Overdrive, an online publication that covers the commercial trucking industry, states the Texas DPS inspected 8,182 commercial vehicles during the blitz and placed 1,938 of those (23.6 percent) out of service.  Issues with brakes and defective vehicle lighting were two of the most common violations that led to removing these vehicles from the road.

What Are the Deadliest Cars On the Road?

As much as Americans are drawn to their cars for their interior and exterior styling, safety is also a primary concern when making a buying decision.  This is especially true when parents hit that nerve-wracking milestone of having young children get their driver's licenses.

A recent study on car safety identifies models that provide reliability and those that are involved in higher rates of fatal accidents.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) collects data on the rate at which drivers of individual models are killed in crashes (it does not take into account passenger deaths).

Why Truck Accidents Need Close Scrutiny

As we hear more about autonomous vehicles and all of their potential benefits, including as it relates to commercial transportation, that technology is still on the horizon.  For now, the steady flow of local and interstate commercial vehicle traffic is powered by humans, and that means human error is inevitable.  The sheer size and weight of these trucks means when they are involved in crashes, catastrophic injuries often occur, leading to a lifetime of disability or even death.

Because of the increased danger that truck crashes pose, the commercial trucking industry is regulated by federal and state laws.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are primarily responsible for enforcing federal trucking regulations, while each state has additional laws regulating intra-state commercial trucking.

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