Nov 28 by Andy Gillin

5 gift ideas that promote bike safety

There are plenty of accessories you can buy for your commuter cyclist friends this holiday season. Here are five gift ideas that can help keep riders out of harm’s way.

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Jun 08 by Andy Gillin

Should self-driving cars still have steering wheels and brake pedals?

Earlier this week, GM CEO Mary Barra said she believes self-driving vehicles should continue to include steering wheels, brake pedals and accelerators as the technology develops. The state of California has already taken this position, requiring a licensed driver at the helm of all self-driving cars.

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Aug 09 by Andy Gillin

Google Blames Human, not Robot, for California Car Accident

Late last week, one of Google’s robot-driven cars caused a minor car accident near the web mega-company’s campus in Mountain View, California. The accident involved five other vehicles, including another Google robot-powered car, but the company was quick to absolve their technology from any responsibility for the futuristic crash, saying that a human was driving the at-fault vehicle at the time. The accident indicates that Google’s vehicular experiment is setting the stage for a brave new world of potential street problems that that could make the question of legal liability following an accident much more complicated.

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Aug 01 by Andy Gillin

Pleasanton Adopts Microwave Technology to Reduce California Bike Accidents

When it comes to cities that put a priority on bike safety, you can’t do much better than California’s Alameda County, the East Bay bicycle mecca that includes Berkeley. But Alameda County is also home to one of California’s most unexpectedly innovative towns when it comes to bike safety technology: Pleasanton. In fact, Pleasanton is using microwave technology to sense when cyclists are near an intersection that will trigger the light to stop cars and allow the cyclist through safely.

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Jul 27 by Andy Gillin

Can Distracted Driving Reduce Car Accidents?

The short answer to the question above is a definitive “no.” With the rise of technology, distracted driving has become a serious problem on US roadways, contributing to nearly 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, according to the NHTSA. To solve this problem, many have turned to dangerous distracted driving technologies that make it easier, not harder, to text and talk behind the wheel. Safety advocates and government officials have opposed this tactic, noting that it’s the conversation, not the device, which causes distractions. The best way to avoid distractions is to simply put down the phone while behind the wheel. But a new article by Keith Barry for Wired’s Autopia blog states that distractions might not be the worst thing.

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Jul 20 by Andy Gillin

Report: Volvo Technology Reduces Low Speed Car Accidents

How great would it be to drive to work without having to think about accidental low-speed car accidents? For years now, car companies have been researching collision avoidance systems, which use technology to alert the driver when a collision is possible. Volvo’s XC60 SUV forward collision warning system has received the most attention, and a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that the warning system could lead to a significant reduction in car accidents. But is this a new example of dangerous distracted driving technology?

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Jul 14 by Andy Gillin

Distracted Driving Technology Not Enough to Reduce Car Accidents

Automaker Ford has rightfully been praised in recent weeks for supporting New York legislation to ban distracted driving. This week, the auto giant became the first of it’s industry to endorse a ban against texting and talking behind the wheel, but as Streetsblog points out, their endorsement allows a major loophole that could stand in the way of the campaign to eliminate distracted driving car accidents. Although the bill prohibits the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, it permits the use of auto technology to facilitate hands-free conversations, which can still be distracting and potentially dangerous.

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Jul 05 by Andy Gillin

Business as Usual for Lawyers on Social Media

There has been much controversy surrounding the American Bar Association’s decision to evaluate and revise its position on social media for lawyers. The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 has solicited guidance from dozens of lawyers across the country and has said repeatedly that any changes are not likely to be earth shattering. But views on both sides of this issue are strong and while some lawyers have been outspoken in their defense of social media, others have said that too much online interaction could cross important ethical borders. This week, the ABA released its initial proposal on the use of technology for client development, and for all intents and purposes, we’re looking at business as usual for lawyers and judges.

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Jun 08 by Andy Gillin

DriveCam Technology Reduces San Francisco Muni Bus Accidents

It’s always fun to write about good news related to traffic safety in San Francisco. That pleasure comes this week as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency reports that in 2010, Muni bus accidents dropped 50 percent below the previous year. The improvement is attributed to a new camera installed in all Muni busses in November 2009 to record the cause of Muni accidents and monitor dangerous driving behavior of Muni operators. The 50 percent drop in bus accidents is an indication that the DriveCam will have a serious positive impact on San Francisco traffic safety.

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Jun 02 by Andy Gillin

Anti Distracted Driving Accident Campaign Targets Auto Technology

Everyone knows that distracted driving is dangerous. There’s simply no safety replacement for staying focused on the road at all times. But when it comes to improving road safety, people seem divided about whether technology should make texting and talking on the phone easier in order to let the driver’s eyes remain on the road, or whether technology should prevent distractions by blocking cell phone use before the driver’s attention wanders. This week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have provided their answer with an effort to eliminate distracting technology behind the wheel.

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May 27 by Andy Gillin

Would Automotive Black Boxes Clarify Car Accident Lawsuits?

There are certain procedures that car accident attorneys use to learn the full story of a collision. An investigator typically speaks to the drivers involved and eye witnesses, accident reconstruction experts depict the scene and how the accident took place, and the attorneys then begin settlement negotiations. While this procedure has proven effective, new high-tech automotive “black boxes” could change auto accident lawsuits by providing a snap shot into the seconds before an accident. The black boxes are modeled after technology already present in airplanes, but is much more controversial on the automotive level, as opponents claim they are unreliable, and an unnecessary infringement of personal freedom.

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May 10 by Andy Gillin

Looking Forward to Avvocating 2011 Conference, May 19-20 in Orlando

Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about Avvo’s impact on the legal profession. Critics have said that Avvo’s rating system appears arbitrary and fluctuates for no reason. Others, like Jay Fleishman, have praised the web startup for its great web presence and growing community. I’m an unabashed fan of Avvo, both for its innovative platform and its clever discussion of web and legal issues on the Avvo Blog and NakedLaw. For these reasons, among others, I’m growing more and more excited for next week’s Avvocating conference in Orlando, Florida.

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May 09 by Andy Gillin

5 Great Bicycle Safety Technologies for National Bike Month

Cars seem destined for distracted driving. Though it’s essential to pay attention to the road and traffic signs, most cars come equipped with a navigation screen, complicated control panel, or at the very least, a radio. So driver safety technology has a lot to compete with. But the matter is different for bicyclists, who aren’t protected by a metal and glass shield and must always be aware of their surroundings. But that doesn’t mean technology can’t help reduce bicycle accident injuries. In honor of National Bike Month we’ve compiled a list of five of the most interesting technologies designed to improve bicycle safety. Take a look, and let us know of others in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

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Apr 18 by Andy Gillin

5 Great Cell Phone Apps to Prevent Distracted Driving

With the rise of distracted driving, cell phones are often cited as villains that facilitate dangerous driving practices. But while distracting phone calls, text messages, and games are certainly a large part of the problem, a few tech companies have put significant resources toward developing smart phone applications that will actually make it easier to drive without distractions. Of course, this isn’t always the result. Earlier this month, for example, we listed the top five most dangerous distracted driving technologies. This week, in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’re focusing on the good innovations that could lead to a generation of safer cell phones and less distracted drivers. Take a look, and leave your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook page.

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Apr 04 by Andy Gillin

5 Most Dangerous Distracted Driving Technologies

When people talk about technology related to distracted driving, they usually mean gadgets that make the roads safer by making distracted driving more difficult. But thanks to the tech “arms race” among car manufacturers, these companies have a economic interest in providing high-tech solutions to distracted driving laws, even if they don’t make you safer. So as we enter into the second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight some of the most dangerous technologies designed to address distracted driving. Click through to take a look.

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Mar 24 by Andy Gillin

Can We Control the Distracted Driving “Arms Race”?

With just about every driving-related sector trying to make distracted driving less prevalent, is dashboard Facebook access necessary? Clearly, no. But that’s the newest development in a distracted driving “arms race” that has engulfed car companies, each trying to develop cutting edge technology designed to make distraction easier and safer behind the wheel. Of course, some are concerned that making technology easier to use while driving will automatically harm road safety. But due to our society’s focus on business, stopping this trend may be difficult.

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Feb 04 by Andy Gillin

New Distracted Driving Gizmo Could Make it Easier to Text

Distracted driving has become a major problem nationwide, killing approximately 5,500 people and injuring nearly 500,000 each year. For that reason, safety advocates, policy makers and scientists have adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to eliminating the dangerous practice. A new intelligent vehicle control system developed by a group of German researchers has taken this effort to unprecedented levels, with a product that would enable to driver to control everything in the car, from the volume settings to temperature, with the wave of a finger.

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Jan 24 by Andy Gillin

Will Auto Technology Increase or Decrease Distracted Driving Car Accidents?

At this point, just about everyone is on the anti-distracted driving bandwagon. Safety advocates, major celebrities, cell phone companies and more have joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to raise awareness about eliminating the dangerous practice. There are some notable holdouts, including the US auto industry, which has enhanced navigation and entertainment systems to improve slumping sales. This week, LaHood will meet with the country’s major automakers to seek help for his anti-distraction campaign. This raises the question of what role technology will have in distracted driving this year and throughout the coming decade.

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Oct 13 by Andy Gillin

Self-Driving Car: Safety Hero or Distracted Driving Foe?

Over the past year, Internet giant Google has grown closer to developing a car that can drive itself. The company, which has overseen seven cars traveling more than 140,000 miles, says that such vehicles could improve road safety by taking it out of the hands of drivers. But the idea could raise a number of questions related to safety and liability in the case of a car accident.

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Aug 26 by Andy Gillin

Will Technology Make Distracted Driving More Dangerous?

This past week, tech blogs have asked an important question for the future of distracted driving: why haven’t we mastered the technology to make cell phone use behind the wheel safe? While a number of car companies, cell phone service operators, and independent techies have probed Bluetooth, voice recognition, and text prediction as potential solutions, no safe driving technology is currently widely used and the number of distracted drivers continues to increase. To make matters worse, new research shows that these tech advances could have a minimal impact, at best, on driver safety.

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Apr 26 by Andy Gillin

Parents: Test Your Teenager on a Distracted Driving Simulator

Generally, I’m not a fan of efforts to reduce distracted driving among teens by scaring the crap out of them. There are all sorts of stats that clearly portray the dangers of distracted driving: last year, it was responsible for nearly 600,000 deaths; it is the number one killer of teenagers; and it’s just as dangerous as driving while drunk. But if teens today are a fraction as stubborn as I was as a teenager, listing statistics to kids won’t have a lasting effect. Instead, consider testing a distracted driving simulator on your teenager and let him or her be the judge.

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