Traffic accidents are unfortunately an all too common occurrence on our roads and highways. As a Portland car crash attorney, I have seen firsthand the terrible economic and social harm caused by motor vehicle accidents. As a Portland personal injury lawyer, it is my job to hold negligent or reckless drivers financially accountable for their actions and get my clients the recoveries that they deserve as compensation for their injures. But, unfortunately, my job as a Portland accident attorney is focused on reactive responses to car accidents rather than proactive systemic change.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report recently that estimates the economic loss and social harm of car accidents can be valued at around $871 billion in the year 2010 alone. This figure accounts for roughly 1.9% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States! Any Portland car accident attorney, or, for that matter, any American, can see that the toll from car crashes is at a catastrophic level. Here’s an article discussing that report.
Technology may be one answer towards lowering the frequency of car accidents and thus reducing the cost in economic harm and loss of human enjoyment and life caused by automobile accidents. Most car crashes are caused by driver error, not environmental factors. Drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding drivers account for the majority of car accidents in the U.S. Recently, Google and several other companies have been developing self-driving cars. These cars use mapping software combined with GPS to figure out where they are going and they have motion sensors and detection equipment that will stop them from running into obstacles. Although the technology is still in a developmental phase, the implications for traffic safety are huge. Computers do not get tired, they do not answer to impulsive urges such as the urge to speed, and they do not get drunk (at least not yet). Imagine a future where you get off work, get into the back of your car, tell the computer to drive you home, and crack a beer. Of course this would not be advisable now considering current open container laws, but as the technology improves and self-driving cars become a reality, the law will have to evolve as well. The future of self-driving cars is exciting because these cars have the potential to greatly reduce the frequency of car crashes. Hopefully, they won’t put this Portland car crash lawyer out of a job!