Cell Phones, Rear End Collisions, and Self-Braking Cars, Oh My. Syracuse Auto Accident Lawyer Explains.

This Syracuse car accident lawyer keeps getting too many rear-end collision cases.  This uptick in my rear-end collisions case load has nothing to do with me. The same uptick is experienced by all Syracuse car accident lawyers, and in fact by auto accident attorneys everywhere in the USA.  This has been a trend for at least a decade, ever since smart phones really took off so that everyone and their mother has one.  Not only does everyone have one, but it seems almost every one at some point in time uses their phone while they are driving.  Be honest, have you?  Ever?

If not, you are in the minority. According to a recent study, almost 90 percent of drivers in the USA admit to using their cell phones (at least sometimes) when they are driving.  Scarier still, the average driver is on his phone 3.5 minutes for every hour of driving.

This doesn’t sound like a lot but it totally explains my uptick in rear-end collision cases.  If you look down at your phone for only one second at a speed of 55 miles per hour, your car travels 80 feet during that second.  So guess where the hood of your car ends up if, during that second, the car you were following decides to stop?  That’s why car accident lawyers all around the Syracuse area, and in fact all around the nation, surely have, like me, increased their rear-end collision case portfolio over the last decade.

Every year, more than 3,000 people are killed because of distracted driving.

Do I sometimes get distracted by my phone while I drive?  Clients have asked me.  I am pleading the fifth on this one, but I will admit that it is possible that in my weaker moments I may have ever-so-briefly glanced down at my iphone to check on a message that arrived with a “beep”.  Not saying I did, mind you, just that it is possible.

If this actually happened, if I were to ever-so-quickly take a peek at my phone, it might be because my new car self-brakes.  That’s right, it’s a smart car.  I set cruise to the speed I want to drive at, and my car automatically keeps me at that speed, unless there is something in my lane of travel I should brake for.  If that happens, my car automatically brakes for me.  When my car follows a slower moving vehicle, it automatically slows to that vehicle’s speed so that I am following it at a safe distance.  My car then brakes when it brakes, and accelerating when it accelerates.  Unless I pass it, of course.

By the way, self-braking vehicles will be standard in all new vehicles by 2022.  So get ready!  And that’s good news because auto-braking is making driving safer, cutting the number of car crashes in half.

So car accident attorneys around the Syracuse area and elsewhere should, within a few years, actually see a DECREASE in rear-end collisions.

My own experience with my self-braking car has been terrific. I have had the car for six months, and the automatic braking feature has never failed.  Not once. It’s natural for me — or any human — to start relying on this record of success.  It’s easy to become overly confident in the car’s ability to brake.  Since I know my car will brake for me, my all-too-human mind says, “hey, why can’t I just look down at my phone momentarily, no big deal since my self-braking car has me covered”.  Again, not saying I have ever done that, but you can easily understand an overwhelming temptation to do so, can’t you?

But it’s not the right thing to do.  You never know . . . .

All this leads me to tell the story of a recent rear-end collision accident.  Not mine of course, oh no.  Some other guy, who apparently did not have an self-braking vehicle, was driving behind a school bus down in the Birmingham area (Broome County) when – lo and behold – he suddenly found the hood of his car buckled into the rear of  a Susquehanna Valley Central School District bus.

Twenty-seven students were riding that bus. Fortunately, the laws of physics were on the children’s’ side; a minivan is no match for a school bus.  None of the children were harmed, and the bus was barely dented.  The minivan driver ended up in the hospital, though.  And that wasn’t his only problem.  He had “some splainin to do” because the bus had its flashing lights on, and its stop sign extended, at the time of the crash.

How could he not see that?  I’ll tell you how;  he wasn’t looking ahead.  Instead, he was looking at his phone. I say that even though he was ticketed for “following too closely” (Vehicle & Traffic Law 1129), which is just the standard ticket police automatically issue to rear-ending vehicles. Based on the facts of this case, I am 98% sure he was not following too closely.  He just was just not looking ahead of him.

Damn phone.

Don’t let that be you.  Don’t be distracted by your phone.  Even if you have a self-braking car.  Otherwise, the guy you rear-end may call this Syracuse car accident lawyer looking to sue you.  Don’t worry, I probably won’t take the call if I’m driving . . .

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@mbk-law.com                   I’d love to hear from you!
Syracuse NY Car Accident Lawyers
Michaels Bersani Kalabanka



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