Safety Technology

Autonomous Driving: When Truck Tailgating is a Good Thing


Autonomous Driving: When Truck Tailgating is a Good Thing

By: Doreen Lundrigan

Autonomous driving vehicles have been in the news more recently. As such, our future is looking much more ‘Jetsons’-like. While smart car technology is being implemented and placed in new cars, full automation is still many years away.

What is much more current and expected to be on the roads this year are partially automated tractor-trailers. Two companies are in the forefront of this technology, Peloton Technology and Omnitracs. Peloton develops active safety systems and is focused on bringing safety, efficiency, and data intelligence to the trucking industry. Omnitracs is a truck fleet management software company. Together, they are working on platooning.

Autonomous Driving - The Cooper Firm Blog


‘Platooning’ is when several trucks drive in close proximity to one another, approximately 30-50 feet, to leverage aerodynamics and save fuel. The trucks are coupled electronically and the close distance minimizes drag. The first vehicle serves as the leader with each successive truck in the platoon connected and controlled autonomously by the lead truck.

The two biggest advantages that platoons have over autonomous vehicles is that there is always a driver in a vehicle ready to take control at a moment’s notice, and they generally use technologies already in production and widely available. Those technologies include collision mitigation. A driver in a trailing vehicle could pull his vehicle out of the platoon at any time and all remaining vehicles would automatically close the gap between vehicles. Ultimately, they hope to be able to use the technology by having only a driver in the lead truck.

At first the trucks will travel in convoys of two and additional trucks will be added into the platooning once the public adapts to this new technology. Using the two-truck convoy will allow motorists to become used to the platooning. If a driver is inclined to slide their vehicle between two trucks less than 50 feet apart, the trucks will be programmed to broaden the gap.

This is the first step towards fully autonomous vehicles and will save fuel and change the trucking industry. Companies are working hard to develop self-driving cars, but that is still in our future.


What new safety features help prevent auto accidents?


What New Safety Features Help Prevent Auto Accidents?

Car companies over the last twenty years have focused on safety features and technologies that can help prevent accidents. For example, there’s electronic stability control in cars. So, when someone begins to lose control of their car, the technology in the car keeps them under control. There’s also anti-lock brake systems in cars now. More recently you have computer technology where you have automatic braking system that if you come up to a car and you don’t recognize it, the car will brake on its own. Or when you change a lane the car will tell you, “You’re changing a lane. Get back into your lane.”

All of this technology is critical because it prevents accident. It keeps people from even needing the airbags or the seat belts because the accidents never happen. What we have found over the years is companies unfortunately don’t put that technology into the cars they should, and, so, we’ve had cases where an accident has happened when it never should have because the safety technology was not used in that car when it should’ve been used, which would’ve prevented the accident.

If you or someone you know have been catastrophically injured in an accident, please contact us today.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Again Tops Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List

ford explorer exhaust leak

Jeep Grand Cherokee Again Tops Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List

The Safety Institute released the Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List this month and Jeep Grand Cherokee again took the top 2 spots. Plagued with power train issues, 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees have held the #1 and #2 positions since November 2016. The report monitors NHTSA investigations and recalls to share the vehicles with the most concerning safety issues at press time.

The powertrain problem with the Jeep Grand Cherokees correlates to the 2016 Fiat Chrysler recall of vehicles equipped with a mono-stable gear selector. This gear shift created great confusion with drivers who exited their vehicles thinking they were in the PARK position, only to have the vehicle roll away, colliding with objects and people. At first Fiat Chrysler attempted to better educate the drivers on the new gear shift when they first were investigated in 2015. After nearly 300 reported incidents of rollaway, and the high profile death of actor Anton Yelchin who was struck and killed by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Fiat Chrysler initiated a recall of over 800,000 vehicles equipped with this specific gear shifter which includes the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2012-2014 Chrysler 300 (#3 on Watch List) and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.

GM’s Chevy Cobalt is a regular on this list for electrical problems stemming from faulty ignition switches discovered by the investigative work of Lance Cooper and The Cooper Firm. The 2009 Toyota Camry also remains on this quarter’s list for its unintended acceleration/speed control issues.

To view the complete list for this year and previous years, visit The Safety Institute’s website.

If you, or someone you know, have been injured by a vehicle with a reported safety defect, please contact us today.

Source: The Safety Institute Press Release

Bankruptcy Will Not Protect GM from Ignition Switch Claims

GM Recall Lawyer - The Cooper Firm

New Ruling States Bankruptcy Will Not Protect GM from Ignition Switch Claims

Last week the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2009 bankruptcy filing by GM will not protect the company from claims related to the defective ignition switches installed in their vehicles from the years 1997-2011.

In 2014, GM announced a voluntary recall of nearly 3 million vehicles due to an ignition switch that could slip into an accessory position, effectively turning the car off unbeknownst to the driver. A recall that came about as a result of the relentless pursuit of justice by Ken & Beth Melton, the parents of Brooke Melton who died from injuries sustained in auto accident as a result of a faulty ignition switch in her Chevy Cobalt. The Cooper Firm had the privilege of representing the Melton family on this case. It’s important to know the outcome of the case proved that GM knew about the faulty ignition switch for years and chose not to fix or notify vehicles owners of the issue. GM ultimately expanded the recall to nearly 30 million vehicles worldwide.

Announcing bankruptcy in 2009 led to the creation of what was dubbed ‘New GM’. According to the ruling, ‘New GM’ could not be held responsible for any misconduct by ‘Old GM’ (i.e. knowingly installing faulty ignition switches in new vehicles) and therefore were immune to any lawsuits or claims from accidents that happened prior to 2009. Last week’s appeal changed all of that. The 2nd Circuit ruled that the bankruptcy court had no jurisdiction to free GM of those claims. The decision to file for bankruptcy does not change the fact that GM was aware of the issue and chose to hide it, denying people of their right to due process since they were not notified of the safety issue prior to the filing.

This is a big win for consumers who were affected by this cover-up. We expect to see an unprecedented amount of cases come forward from accidents that occurred prior to 2009 as a result of the faulty ignition switch and the actions of GM.

Check to see if your vehicle has an active recall here:

If you or someone you know has been injured as result of a possible GM ignition switch failure, please Contact Us today.


Not all advanced safety features are created equal

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Not all advanced safety features are created equal

Although Consumer Reports highly recommends advanced safety features on vehicles, they recently shared that not all of these systems are created equal. This especially true for those systems that have forward collision warning.

After several vehicles were manufactured with upgraded safety features, Consumer Reports revised its car Ratings system to factor in the new advanced features. After looking into the systems further, Consumer Reports found that different systems have varied sensitivities and can react differently and can even send false alerts to drivers.

In addition to analyzing the systems, Consumer Reports issued a survey to drivers regarding these advanced safety features. Although some systems falsely alerted drivers even when there was no potential crash, the majority of drivers still preferred having the feature on their vehicles. Since the systems are not all created the same, they can detect accidents by using laser, radar or cameras to identify speed and objects. False alerts can be triggered by rain, harsh light, wet or snowy conditions and large shadows. If the system detects a collision, it will give the driver a warning, allowing them time to take action. Some systems will actually break for the driver. This can also cause some confusion, because often drivers do not know how their vehicle’s system works exactly, or they can put too much faith in the vehicle to do take action for them.

Out of the 3,127 people with 2014 model year vehicles with Forward Collision Warning that Consumer Reports surveyed, 36 percent said that their system saved them from an accident. Consumer Reports found that Subaru excelled above all tested brands as having the fewest false alerts. Nissan, Toyota, Ford and Audi followed closely behind.

Even though these systems are not all created equal, Consumer Reports still believes that Forward Collision Warnings are an essential safety component that should be sold on every vehicle along with Automatic Emergency Braking Systems. Hopefully as technology advances and more testing is done, automakers can improve systems to decrease the amount of false alerts and increase the amount of lives saved and accidents prevented.

Source: Consumer Reports

Your Next Car Could Tell You When You’re Not Paying Attention

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Your Next Car Could Tell You When You’re Not Paying Attention

Since fully autonomous vehicles are still many years away from infiltrating the auto market, automakers are developing technology that will allow vehicles to determine if its human driver is paying attention to the road.

Distracted driving is a growing and deadly problem. According to, 3,197 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in 2014 due to distracted driving. Thousands of people are dying every year due to drivers not paying attention behind the wheel. This technology could help save lives. Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen have already started testing some of these systems, and it’s rumored that the technology will be available in two models next year.

Delphi Automotive has created the technology which will use cameras and software to track driver’s eyes and head movements. Since one of the most common distractions is cell phones, tracking a driver’s eye movement will help identify when a driver has become too distracted to drive. The systems will then alert the driver through vibrations or sound to let them know they need to re-focus their attention on the road. The system will work the same for drivers who may get drowsy behind the wheel as it will track their level of alertness. The radar will be able to recognize sagging eyelids, wrinkling of the temples, and squinting.

For drivers who are worried about their privacy or their distracted driving habits being shared, automakers have said that the information will not be released without their consent or a court request. More than likely, it will still be a long battle between automakers, technologist, consumers and industry government officials.

If these technologies are developed correctly, they have the potential to save thousands of lives.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident due to distracted driving, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Consumer Reports Suggest Buying Cars with Advanced Safety Systems

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Consumer Reports Suggest Buying Cars with Advanced Safety Systems

Consumer Reports is urging consumers to consider vehicles with active safety systems whenever purchasing a new vehicle.

Automakers have recently developed several advanced technology systems to help drivers avoid accidents. Initially, these systems were only offered by a few select automakers and usually on vehicles with a hefty price tag. Now, they are more readily available on vehicles and are not as expensive as they once were. There is hope that they will one day become standard like seat belts and airbags.

The new active safety systems include:

Forward-collision warning, with or without auto brakes. Consumer Reports states this system, “should be at the top of your list.” This system notifies driver of a potential for the most common type of car collision, a forward collision through radar, lasers and cameras.

Backup cameras and sensors. Consumer Reports shared that by 2018, this system will be standard on all vehicles.

Blind-spot warning and rear-cross traffic warnings. These systems alert drivers of possible collisions due to blind-spots through vibration of driver’s seat or alarm.

Lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. These systems help keep the vehicles in its proper lane when the driver may be drifting.

Although none of these systems are perfected, the extra layer of protection they add far outweighs the kinks. Many of these systems have variety of names due to the fact they were developed by different automakers with different branding.

If you are currently in the market to buy a new vehicle, Consumer Reports has pulled together all feature names and options on each vehicle model which you can view here –

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a car accident, contact our law offices today.

Buy Your Child A Convertible Right Now, A Convertible Car Seat That is

Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Buy Your Child A Convertible Right Now, A Convertible Car Seat That is

No, we are not talking about convertible-top cars and that beloved T-Bird, although there may come a time when your teen really really wants one (and lets you know several times an hour).    Rather, we are talking about convertible car seats, and your about-to-be one year old.    New safety guidelines, some new state laws, and recent tests by Consumers Union (“CU”) show that you should put your child into a rear-facing convertible car seat by the time she is one year old.

Concerned about the collision of children’s heads with parts of the car during collisions, Consumers Union developed a new test protocol.   CU wanted to help “differentiate the ability of a variety of child seats to protect a child’s head.”   Existing crash tests, even those from the government “do not mimic what happens when a child comes into contact with another part of the vehicle.”   Thus, CU added to its test a surface that mimics what happens when a child’s head interacts with the front seatback.    CU compared its new tests with some it had done earlier on rear-facing detachable carrier  seats.

In the earlier tests, CU used a 22-pound dummy to represent the average 12 month-old child.   In tests with the detachable carrier seats, the dummy “suffered a head strike against the simulated front seatback with 16 of the 30 tested models (53 percent).”  Obviously, that is simply too dangerous.

In its new testing, CU focused on convertible seats.   They have longer shells and different shapes than the detachable carriers.   The convertible carriers performed substantially better in tests using the same dummy.   The dummy’s head hit the back of the seat in only 1 of 25 models, namely, only 4 percent.   Because of these glaring test differences, CU suggest that you put your 1 year old into a convertible seat much sooner than you might have thought, and not keep your child in the detachable car seat until she is two.

Some of CU’s findings and thoughts:

The height of your child matters more than weight.  And your child will likely grow tall enough to merit a convertible seat before he reaches the weight limits of the detachable carrier seat.

You will need one anyways.   New laws in California, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, as well as recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (since 2011), respectively, require and recommend that children under two be in rear-facing child seats.

The protection it gives your child is substantially greater.

Do not value convenience over safety.  Yes, lifting and toting the detachable seat seems easier.   You do not have to wake the child up to move the seat, and so on.   But safety should outweigh convenience.  Avoiding brain damage or death should be worth the extra effort.


A whopping 96 percent of parents think they know how to install the car seat properly.   Yet, when inspected by professionals, it is clear that up to 75 percent of car seats are actually installed incorrectly.   So, take the time to learn how to install your seat properly and safely—so that it can do its primary job.                


Related:    CU’s latest car seat ratings

Car Seats and Information For Families

Majority of parents do not install car seats correctly

Effects of LATCH versus Available Seatbelt Installation of Rear Facing Child Restraint Systems    on Head Injury Criteria for 6 Month Old Infants in Rear End Collisions


Related Sites:

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions account for a third of all car crashes. After years of trying to figure out how to prevent these accidents, automakers have started implementing technology to help reduce the amount of rear-end collisions.

Accidents cost Americans billions of dollars every year and lead to injuries and in some cases deaths. Safety technology could change that dramatically, and automakers and regulators feel strongly that it will. Ten automakers, federal safety regulators and an insurance industry trade group announced that automatic emergency braking will become a standard feature on all new car models sold in the United States. Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo were all automakers who agreed to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on developing a timeline to install the feature in all upcoming and future models.

Automatic emergency braking uses a combination of sensors and cameras or lasers to detect a potential crash and then warns the driver. In some cases, the vehicle will even brake for the driver if the driver does not take action. There are several newer vehicles that already offer this feature and those similar such as automated cruise control, lane departure warnings and high beams that will automatically adjust if an oncoming vehicle is coming. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety feels that automated braking systems can potentially reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35%.

Having technologies that react quickly will help eliminate driver error and assist with drivers that may respond slower than normal. NHTSA found that many drivers in rear-end collisions didn’t apply the brakes at all or did not apply the brakes fully, both of which can be corrected by this new technology. Details regarding the roll-out have not been decided yet, and since it is not a federal mandate, companies are taking time to establish the performance criteria. Most of the technologies that are already on these newer models come with a price tag, so hopefully with the new roll-out, automakers will not add a price to safety. It has also not been decided if insurance premiums will be lower for vehicles that have these technologies or not.

While these products are going to help decrease the amount in injuries and deaths on the road, there is a potential that they could come with glitches and defects just as safety technologies before it such as airbags and seat belts. It is our hope that manufacturers and automakers alike will take the time to really ensure that these products are safe and that drivers understand them before they hit the market.

New Auto Safety Technology Come With Little Technology for Drivers

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

New Auto Safety Technology Come With Little Technology for Drivers

Safety technology has allowed vehicles to almost completely drive themselves, but with the new technology additions to vehicles there has been little to no education for drivers.

Vehicles can brake themselves before getting too close to another object, move back into its lane if it starts drifting, alert drivers if there is a vehicle in its blind spot, and some more advanced vehicles have adaptive cruise control allowing drivers to ride hands- and foot-free. Many of these safety technology features will completely revolutionize safety for vehicles and prevent thousands of accidents and injuries from occurring. Unfortunately, a large portion of drivers have these technologies on their vehicles but do not know how they work making them potential hazards.

Due to the lack of education regarding these technology features, the Department of Transportation along with the University of Iowa have started an education campaign to help explain to drivers how these technologies work. The campaign will include a website that drivers can view video demonstrations on how each technology works ( The University of Iowa also conducted a study where the majority of drivers said they were not sure how the technology worked. About 40 percent of individuals in the study said their vehicle had behaved in an unexpected way.

The least understood technology, according to the University of Iowa, was adaptive cruise control, which allows a vehicle to slow or speed up to maintain a constant following distance. Some adaptive cruise controls do even more than that, such as the newest Tesla model, which you can read more about here.  Adaptive cruise control has been around for nearly a decade, but is still misunderstood. The safety technology features vary from model to model making it even more difficult. Owner’s manuals rarely explain how each system works and are often written in a way that makes it hard for owners to understand. Even though some automakers will offer CDs or DVDs on how to use the safety system, drivers usually never spend the time to sit down and watch them, or don’t even know that that’s what the disc are intended for.

Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge can make these technologies dangerous. In some situations, owners think the safety systems do more than they actually do, such as completely stop a vehicle if it is too close when it will actually only alert the driver if they are too close. In some cases, alerts can catch drivers off guard causing them to over correct. Some systems still require the driver to brake or steer, they are simply warning signals, while others will correct, brake or function for the driver.

New drivers and teens are not learning these technologies in their driving courses either. Most state-required curriculum is years behind the newest technology. They are still talking about airbags and anti-lock brakes, but nothing like lane departure warnings or automatic braking.

Even though vehicles are capable of being completely self driving, due to the lag in regulations it will be years before we will see them across the nation. In the meantime, there needs to be more partnering with automakers for education on these technologies.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a product defect or vehicle, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

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