Samsung has joined other major companies like GM and Toyota by announcing a $300 million fund to help support startups and business ideas for self-driving/driverless cars as well as car safety—$90 million alone has been invested into an Austrian company whose aim is to develop better safety software for future vehicles. Samsung is just the latest major company to put investments into the ever-growing market of smarter, more technologically advanced cars. In fact, Goldman Sachs estimates that semi- and fully autonomous cars could account for about 20 percent of all automobile sales in the U.S. by the year 2030.
Many believe that not only will the future automobile industry deliver driverless cars, but it will also provide safer vehicles. One particular study suggests that driver distractions are the cause for over one-third (4 million out of 11 million) of the automobile accidents in the United States annually. The same study also suggests that many of these accidents could be avoided altogether if the distractions to drivers were eliminated.
The solution to some of these dangers may lie with future car technology. This includes enhanced sensors which can detect threats quicker than human senses and can actually move the car into a better, safer position on the highway if it encounters some danger. Some cars of the future also will operate similar to a computer by having what some industry leaders call the car’s “brain,” which can be compared to a computer’s motherboard. As these futuristic cars operate and travel down the road, they will constantly absorb and process driving data that essentially enables these vehicles to learn as they drive. Proprietors of this technology claim that the learning feature means the cars will only become safer as time goes on and can use the knowledge they acquire to avoid accidents and collisions on the road.
Until such developments are realized, there are certain measures that are being implemented in the status quo to make cars safer and reduce the risk of accidents. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and Consumer Reports have all partnered together in releasing several videos on how to reduce distractions in the car while providing information to teachers and parents for how to teach responsible driving habits to young people and adolescents.
Hopefully more companies follow Samsung’s lead and pledge resources to the research and development of new safety features and safer software systems. The automobile industry is in the midst of an interesting period that could bring about a significant leap forward in automotive technology—in the meantime, educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving and promoting currently available automotive safety measures seems to be the best option for reducing the number of car wrecks and fatalities on the road.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.