Does Automotive Technology Have a Dark Side?

Industry Of Auto Accidents

The cornerstone of personal injury law is founded in auto accidents.

If you ask any attorney or insurance adjuster, they will tell you that the majority of claims involve auto accidents. Here at Smiley Law Firm, we deal with auto accidents every day. There is a notion that people can handle these complex claims on their own and this notion is flawed.

Many people in the legal world speculate on whether technology, especially that which pertains to automobiles, will have a positive or negative effect on society, safety, and the legal community. Personally, being a fan of technology, I think the road will become safer and the legal industry will take a hit from the lower volume of accidents.

It is possible that if the technology works, then it may cripple the legal injury industry. Could you imagine the world where our billboards are filled with signs that are not legally related? I know advertising giants like Lamar and CBS do not want to see this happen.

Each new vehicle model year comes jam-packed with new features. Some promise to take the drudgery out of driving, but some make much more lofty claims–they claim to save lives. The airbag and seatbelt have surely saved countless lives and minimize injury, but is there a dark side to automotive technology?

Check out these examples of purported “life-savers” that may not have the intended effect.

Does ABS Actually Save Lives?

Most modern vehicles come equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). You might not even notice it until you try to stop quickly in snow or other inclement weather. Automotive companies have touted ABS as a miracle preventer of injury and fatality, but one author tells a different story.

Tom Vanderbilt, the award-winning author of the National Bestseller Traffic, points out one flaw with an anti-lock braking system: it lulls us into a false sense of security. Automakers assumed that ABS systems would save lives, but Vanderbilt points out that they haven’t been as effective as promised.

For example, people tend to follow closely because they think ABS brakes will save them, contributing to more dangerous road scenarios. This is just one unintended consequence of automotive technology.

Touch Screens Create Unintended Dangers

Distracted driving is a huge problem, so the government and automakers alike are working to minimize it. Many states have passed bans on texting and driving, and even talking on the phone.

Mobile technology has become a part of our everyday lives. Recognizing this, most automakers have created mobile-compatible touchscreens in driver consoles. In some cases, you can read texts from the screen, place hands-free calls, and play music from your mobile applications.

Automakers may have created these tools with the best intentions, but they may have a detrimental effect. Unlike traditional consoles, touchscreens don’t have raised buttons, which means you may have to spend more time looking down at a screen than looking at the road. In other words, these mobile compatible devices may lead to more distraction, not less.

Distracted driving has a huge impact on the legal industry and the safety of the public in general. Here at Smiley Law Firm, we get new cases all the time where the at-fault driver was texting or distracted by some type of technology in the vehicle.

The Future of Automation

Autonomous vehicles have a lot of people excited. Imagine being able to sit back in your vehicle and relax as your car ferried you safely from place to place. Automotive experts and technology pioneers are promising fewer accidents, safer rides, and more pleasant commuting experience.

Take away human error, and everyone wins… right? Check out this darker read from Truck Tech author Jack Roberts.

This, unfortunately, exposes a potential dark side to autonomous technology. Martin Rees has a good Huffington Post article on this and other technologies that are changing our world.

Autonomous vehicles are programmed to follow the rules exactly–they always follow posted speed limits; they come to complete stops at every stop sign; they use sensors to stay inside lanes.

People, on the other hand, aren’t that neat. We get by on rolling stops, cruise through yellow lights, and drift out of our lanes occasionally. You have to wonder if marrying autonomous vehicles with human error will actually prevent accidents, or cause more problems. Some experts believe it’s impossible to know how many lives autonomous technology will actually save.

Back-Up Cameras

Backup cameras will be mandatory in every vehicle beginning in 2018. These tools are handy for seeing what’s around and avoiding collision with people or things that might be in your blind spot.

On the other hand, they don’t work well when it’s dark, or in inclement weather, and they might encourage people to become over-reliant on technology. Cameras can assist in safe driving, but there’s no replacement for caution and checking a blind spot before going in reverse.

Automotive technologies have the ability to save lives, as long as we continue to drive defensively. We must always use caution around one another even as new technology emerges, to make the roads as safe as possible.


Technology is great, I love it and always look for the next gadget to make my life more convenient. However, we must be careful when simply assuming we are safer due to technology.

We all remember the vehicle recalls and other issues with technology which have caused much greater damage than the past. I know these examples are few and far between, however, we must not let our guards down. If it feels unsafe, do not do it.

Technology can also change how lawyers assess a new case. In the past with drivers in full control, we were easily able to blame the other driver for fault in the accident. Now with the new technologies, auto accidents will be more difficult to pinpoint who or what is at fault.

Attorneys will start suing giants like Uber and Google for the advancements made in these vehicles. If the technology fails in an auto accident then attorneys will most certainly sue the manufacturer. Attorneys will love this because the insurance policies for the auto accident will be far greater if you can sue the manufacturer.

If you are in an auto accident that was not your fault, please call Smiley Law Firm. Our team will help get you the most recovery possible for your claim. Technology or no tech, we will take care of your issue as if it were our own.

Learn More From Smiley Law Firm’s Injury Blog

Here at Smiley Law Firm, we write about the topic of car accidents extensively. This may be the most popular topics for our clients and the public. As personal injury attorneys, we believe in educating our clients and the public with the most up to date information available. We have a number of blogs and articles covering the following topics. Please read them and leave comments if you find the information helpful.


  1. Seth Smiley

    on July 17, 2019

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  2. Seth Smiley

    on July 17, 2019

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  3. Seth Smiley

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  30. Angela Waterford

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    There was a teenager who injured my grandmother due to texting while driving. I think I’ll hire a car accident lawyer because her life had been irreparably changed. Thanks for pointing out that I’ll be able to point out his negligence with the attorney’s help, so I’ll be sure to hire a good one.

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