Apr 16, 2021
Improving traffic safety is a universal goal, and one that could particularly benefit California drivers. As we’ve noted previously, car accident fatalities have actually increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. A National Safety Council (NSC) report issued last May confirmed that during the early months of the pandemic, drivers in all 50 states were actually at higher risk for dying in a motor vehicle crash. In an effort to reduce traffic collisions and fatalities, many local, state, and federal government agencies are implementing programs that aim to increase awareness and improve driving habits.
In 2019, Los Angeles adopted its Vision Zero plan, the city’s blueprint to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025. The program highlights the fact that over 200 Angelenos are killed each year while traversing our city, and more than half of those fatalities involve pedestrians and bicyclists. One of Vision Zero’s primary objectives is to reduce vehicle speed, as the program’s creators note that eliminating speeding is “fundamental to safer streets.”
Although California ranks as one of the most dangerous states for traffic collisions – with 3,563 car accident fatalities in 2018 alone – the issue of traffic safety impacts drivers around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are over 1.35 million road deaths, leading to more than 50 million people being maimed every year worldwide. That equates to a cost of over $2 trillion to the global economy.
In addition to efforts by government agencies, many companies in the private sector are working to make the world’s streets safer through artificial intelligence (AI). Once such company in Ireland, Provizio, believes that artificial intelligence might be the “vaccine” to the world’s “global road death pandemic.”
Provizio is a startup company based in Limerick (with satellite offices in Belfast and Pittsburgh) that recently made headlines for securing a €5.2 million seed investment for its car accident prevention technology. The Irish Examiner referred to Provizio’s technology as a “five-dimensional sensory platform that uses AI to perceive, predict, and prevent car accidents in real-time and beyond the line of sight.”
According to Provizio, today’s motor vehicle emergency braking systems can only measure approximately 40 meters ahead. That’s the equivalent of a one-second reaction time at highway speeds. The company asserts that drivers require ten times the capability of the current systems to perceive, predict, and prevent car accidents. Hence, Provizio’s team of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, and radar sensor development experts created the new Accident Prevention Technology Platform.
As the Irish Examiner reported in an interview with Provizio’s CEO, Barry Lunn, the focus on traffic safety has always been limited to “a reactive basis” or “prescriptive safety measures.” That type of focus is, according to Lunn, shortsighted. Lunn tells the Examiner that continuing along the same path will “merely minimize damage to passengers” and cannot “stop the crash from occurring.” Provizio is operating under the belief that AI is the future of car safety. Lunn says that the automotive industry’s focus on autonomous or self-driving vehicles “should only come after the former is solved.”
“[The automotive industry] should never have talked about autonomy until we could solve the problems that lead to crashes,” Lunn told the Irish Examiner. “I think that’s where we really got it wrong.”
“We’ve all had those moments where we’ve almost killed ourselves,” he added.
“If the technology in your car saves you, if you are about to do an overtaking maneuver and the steering wheel stops you and then a vehicle came against you and you go ‘Oh Christ, thank God for that,’ that’s how you get people comfortable with autonomy,” said Lunn.
A June 2020 study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that the majority of self-driving cars – using current technology – are unable to prevent the most common types of car accidents.
According to the study, “… a national survey of police-reported crashes [indicates] driver error is the final failure in the chain of events leading to more than nine out of 10 crashes.” Moreover, the Institute’s analysis suggests “that only about a third of those crashes were the result of mistakes that automated vehicles would be expected to avoid simply because they have more accurate perception than human drivers and aren’t vulnerable to incapacitation.”
In other words, self-driving cars are limited in terms of their ability to account for human error, and even more limited in terms of being able to account for more complex, “prediction-based scenarios.”
The study also notes that when drivers are distracted, visibility is low, or a potential hazard is recognized too late, self-driving cars actually excel. Additionally, self-driving cars can excel in common crashes due to impairment (drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol) or a medical emergency. According to the IIHS, those types of crashes account for only one-third of all motor vehicle collisions.
“The remaining two-thirds might still occur unless autonomous vehicles are also specifically programmed to avoid other types of predicting, decision-making, and performance errors,” the study says.
If Provizio’s car accident technology could address this shortfall in self-driving cars, roads around the world might not only be safer, but personal injury claims resulting from car accidents could be reduced significantly.
But start-up companies and automobile manufacturers aren’t the only ones working to improve traffic safety with AI. Car insurance companies are also working to reduce car accidents (along with their payouts to injured victims).
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The future of auto insurance is evolving according to advancements in technology and demand for a more user-friendly customer experience. Greater reliance on ride-sharing systems such as Uber and Lyft is proof to some industry professionals that young people are less interested in owning a car than ever before. With estimates indicating there are over 50 million telematics-enabled vehicles on the road in the United States (and autonomous cars expected to be available for purchase by 2025), it’s clear that the auto insurance world is entering uncharted territory.
Major changes are occurring today throughout the auto insurance industry, and further advancements are predicted for the future. Additionally, as the industry evolves, a residual effect is being experienced throughout personal injury law.
Insurance companies are working to anticipate the needs of customers in accordance with the changing technology. Millennials, the soon-to-be-largest generation in America, are well known for their tech savviness in addition to their short attention spans and need for immediate gratification. As such, when shopping for auto insurance, many want to be able to pay bills, change plans, and file claims in real time, with the click of a button.
With over 80% of Americans owning smartphones, the days of meeting your local insurance agent at a brick and mortar office are essentially over. In 2017, Allstate announced an initiative to eliminate 500 drive-in claims centers in favor of mobile claims processing. And other carriers are following suit, combining telematics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and AI to not only improve the customer experience but also make the roads safer.
Insurers utilizing the Internet of Things to monitor driving behavior are changing the face of “risk management” within the emerging insurance market. Many of the largest insurance agencies are currently moving away from standard risk factors such as age to focus on analyzing driver habits to determine premiums.
State Farm currently offers their ‘Drive Safe and Save Program‘ for drivers willing to allow monitoring of their every move via either the company’s proprietary app or a third-party tracker system. By enrolling in the program, State Farm indicates that drivers can save up to 50% on their monthly premiums based on the results. Similarly, Progressive Insurance offers their mobile app – Snapshot – which is said to offer qualifying drivers who use the service an average discount of $130. And Liberty Mutual offers their RightTrack system, which can earn drivers a reported lifetime 30% discount.
As the tier 1 insurance carriers have adapted with the changing times, hundreds of new ‘InsurTech’ (which refers to the use of technology innovations designed to squeeze out savings and efficiency from the current insurance industry model) startup companies have been created. They aim to disrupt the industry by targeting the large carriers – frequently perceived as being inefficient, overpriced, and even old fashioned – and siphoning away some of the billions of dollars in premiums through a more affordable, customer-centric experience made possible by new technology. InsurTech startups view the goal of better managing risk through AI and other forms of technology as an opportunity to provide customers with a fairer (i.e. less expensive) marketplace where safe drivers are prioritized.
Such changes to the insurance landscape come at an opportune time. In 2016, car accident fatalities in the U.S. totaled nearly 40,000, the highest point in nearly a decade. Additionally, as cars become equipped with advanced technology features, they are more-and-more expensive to repair and therefore more likely to be written off as total losses by insurance companies. Both factors make safe roads as great a priority as ever.
And, of course, fewer accidents equal fewer personal injury claims, which should mean lower insurance premiums for all of us whether we choose a tier 1 company or an InsurTech startup. With motor vehicle accidents representing over 50% of personal injury claims, the effects of this newfound and ever-changing period in auto insurance will undoubtedly be felt throughout the personal injury law arena.
As technology advances, one thing is clear: our driving habits will be monitored more closely than ever, but those of us who drive safe and smart should have nothing to fear but lower premiums (and safer roads).
Dordulian Law Group is considered California’s premier personal injury firm because of the multiple advantages provided to injured car accident victims. What, exactly, is the DLG advantage? Let’s take a look:
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t settle for anything but the DLG advantage. Our client testimonials are evidence of our entire team’s unwavering commitment to every single case we handle. Dordulian Law Group has successfully recovered over $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for injured clients, and we’re here to fight just as hard as your dedicated advocate when you’re ready to file a claim.
In the future, car accidents will hopefully become an unfortunate aspect of the past thanks to artificial intelligence. Until then, if you’re injured in a car accident, be sure to choose the best firm in California to represent your interests.
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