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Part Two of Two – Intelligent Speed Assistance

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all new vehicles be equipped with (a) passive blood-alcohol monitoring and (b) intelligent speed adaptation advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The NTSB issued these two recommendations after investigating a horrific New Year’s Day 2021 crash that killed nine people in Avenal, California. That crash occurred when an intoxicated driver crossed the centerline of a two-lane highway. At the time, he was traveling 88-98 mph—33-43 mph above the posted 55-mph speed limit. He struck a pickup head-on, tragically killing himself and a family of eight. The NTSB’s recommendations address two problematic aspects of this driver’s conduct that account for significant societal harm in the U.S.: impaired driving and speeding.

Is this anything new? And does it signify a potential move towards strict products liability by auto manufacturers for driver fault via illegal activity? This two-part post will address those questions. In short, the answers are (a) kind of, but not really, and (b) not quite—these technologies are nascent, not state of the art.
Continue Reading Whose Fault Is It Anyway? Products Liability and Regulatory Implications of the NTSB’s Recent Recommendations on Blood Alcohol Monitoring and Intelligent Speed Assistance.

Part One of Two – Passive Blood-Alcohol Monitoring

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all new vehicles be equipped with (a) passive blood-alcohol monitoring and (b) intelligent speed adaptation advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The NTSB issued these two recommendations after investigating a horrific New Year’s Day 2021 crash that killed nine people in Avenal, California. That crash occurred when an intoxicated driver crossed the centerline of a two-lane highway. At the time, he was traveling 88-98 mph—33-43 mph above the posted 55-mph speed limit. He struck a pickup head-on, tragically killing himself and a family of eight. The NTSB’s recommendations address two problematic aspects of this driver’s conduct that account for significant societal harm in the U.S.: impaired driving and speeding.

Is this anything new? And does it signify a potential move towards strict products liability by auto manufacturers for driver fault via illegal activity? This two-part post will address those questions. In short, the answers are (a) kind of, but not really, and (b) not quite—these technologies are nascent, not state of the art.
Continue Reading Whose Fault Is It Anyway? Products Liability and Regulatory Implications of the NTSB’s Recent Recommendations on Blood Alcohol Monitoring and Intelligent Speed Assistance.

Are autonomous vehicles safe? Are they safer than vehicles driven by people? Is one type of autonomous vehicle safer than another? Last week NHTSA released the data it gathered over the last year pursuant to last summer’s Standing General Order requiring autonomous vehicle manufacturers and operators to report crashes in which autonomous driving systems were in use. NHTSA reported separately on data involving (a) advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS,” i.e. SAE Level 2) and (b) automated driving systems (“ADS,” i.e. SAE levels 3-5). What’s the upshot from NHTSA’s data drop? Well, it’s complicated.
Continue Reading Are Autonomous Vehicles Safe? NHTSA Releases Murky Data on 2021-2022 AV Crashes

On March 10, 2022, Deputy NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff signed a “first-of-its-kind” final rule revising occupant protection standards for automated vehicles. The rule “updates the occupant protection Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards [“FMVSS”] to account for vehicles that do not have traditional manual controls associated with a human driver because they are equipped with automated driving systems [“ADS”].” This is essentially NHTSA’s first attempt to address the effects of vehicle automation on crashworthiness systems.
Continue Reading NHTSA Issues “First-Of-Its-Kind” Final Crashworthiness Rule for Automated Vehicles

Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Katie Porter, D-Calif. recently announced that they will be introducing the Booster Seat Safety Act to implement sweeping changes to regulations governing child booster seat safety.

The legislation follows a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, which follows a ProPublica report, which was prompted by a class action and another class action, both of which were prompted by a prior products liability lawsuit.

The Act seeks to introduce a number of mandatory reforms. Per the Subcommittee press release:

Continue Reading Congress Proposes Booster Seat Safety Act—What to Know