It's very likely you've seen one of the many news headlines touting the rapid development of self driving vehicles. Companies like Google, Ford, GM, and others are working towards making vehicles that require no human control at all, and they're getting close to a product good enough to be sold to consumers.

Just last year, in March of 2015, Delphi successfully completed the world’s first 3500-mile cross-country trip of an autonomous vehicle, and did so safely, with no incidents or collisions. This was achieved with a modified Audi SQ5. There were several people in the car the entire time, monitor the journey and how well the new tech performed in a variety of traffic scenarios. Even though it wasn't ever a problem, there was someone in the drivers seat, ready to take the wheel if need be.

Ford has made the prediction that within 5 years, at least one company will have a self driving vehicle ready for sale. With four years left to go on that time line, it's seems as though it might happen even sooner than previously imagined.

The current best selling electric car in the US, Tesla's Model S, had an available upgrade that allows for computer assisted driving. It's not full-form autonomous driving, but it's very close. The drive can let of the wheel, and the car can brake, accelerate, steer, and even change lanes without any input from the driver at all. It's suspected that the ability for these cars to become fully autonomous is nothing more than a software update away, but with many states not having clear laws on the subject, the manufacturer is playing it safe, and keeping within the confines of the laws that are currently in place.

Which then raises the question about what laws will be needed when more of these self-driving vehicles become available. What happens when there's an accident? Who is at fault? Is the person behind the wheel held responsible, even though he or she wasn't the one controlling the vehicle? Or is it the fault of the manufacturer, who wrote the software that was driving the car? These aren't questions that the law has answered yet, and there will be a lot of debate over how these situations should be handled.

Admittedly, to date, there has only been one single accident involving an autonomous vehicle, and was a collision between one of Google's AV test ...
Snapchat has been named in a lawsuit for a car accident involving a teenager who was using the app while driving. It's not out of the ordinary for people to use mobile tech irresponsibly while driving, but rarely does it lead to the tech company who developed the device or app to get sued. Snapchat is currently valued somewhere between $10-20 billion.

The lawsuit comes out of Georgia, where a violent car crash nearly left five people dead in September 2015. The blame is being put on Snapchat's speed filter, which superimposes the current speed over the image at the time the photo was taken, measured in either miles or kilometer per hour.

At the time of the accident, the teen driver was attempting to photograph herself driving at more than 100 mph in a 55 mph zone, in order to post the picture to social media. She then rear ended the plaintiff, Maynard Wentworth, at approximately 107 mph.

Severe injuries were had by the teen driver, her 3 passengers, and Wentworth, who went into a coma, spent 5 weeks in intensive care, and suffered permanent brain damage.

Wentworth's family is now suing Snapchat for an unspecified amount of money. His attorney's argue that Snapchat facilitated the teen driver's excessive speeding, due to the irresponsible implementation of the apps speed filter. They claim the app distracted the driver, and encouraged her drive recklessly, claiming “This is a product liability case because Snapchat put something very dangerous in the marketplace without any warnings or safeguards, and basically said, whatever happens, happens.”

The lawyers are also hold the teen driver accountable, who is also named in the lawsuit, but believe that Snapchat played a major role.

The teen driver's family claim that Wentworth pulled out in front of her illegally. However, the 3 passengers in her car have stated on record that she was driving as fast as 113 miles per hour. A car crash expert was able to determine her vehicle's speed at the moment of impact with Wentworth's vehicle.

This case joins a long list of instances of people who were distracted by their mobile devices, which then resulted in serious accidents. However, rewarding it's users for driving dangerously with it's speed filter doesn't make Snapchat look very good either, and may make their case more difficult in court.

Distracted driving has become a national topic, with regulations being passed all over the country that curb the use ...

According to the Highway Patrol, there have been 861 traffic deaths in Missouri in 2015, with almost 100 of these deaths correlated to driver inattention that includes cell phone usage. 357 accidents were specifically caused by texting and driving.

Missouri is one of the four states left without a ban on texting for all drivers. In 2009, state of Missouri senators, David Pearce and Jill Schupp banned texting and driving for novice drivers who are 21 years and younger. Drivers under the age of 22 who get caught texting while operating a vehicle in Missouri will be forced to pay a $200 fine.

In the last few weeks, measures that include the Senate Bill 569, Senate Bill 821, and House Bill 1671 have been discussed among Missouri lawmakers. Some of the changes proposed in these bills would involve increased penalties for texting and driving and an extension of the current law, banning texting and driving to individuals of all ages. If this law passes, it will be illegal for any driver in the state of Missouri to send or read a text message unless the device is equipped with technology that allows for voice recognition hands-free texting and is being used in the appropriate manner.

Currently, 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for drivers of all ages. Texas and Missouri are the two states that only implemented this law for novice drivers while Montana and Arizona do not currently have bans against texting and driving.

Senator David Pearce explains that the legislation to ban texting for all Missouri drivers is a common sense law that’s been a top priority of his for quite some time. He explains that it is far too common for people to make jokes about having a fear of missing out because of not reading or responding to a text message. Pearce states that no text message is crucial enough to risk missing out on the rest of life or even worse, causing someone else’s life to end.

Texting and driving is a serious issue that can lead to severe injuries and fatalities. It will be interesting to see whether or not Missouri joins the other states in implementing this no texting law for all drivers.

Snapchat, a popular smartphone app, has been implicated in a fiery Philadelphia car crash that claimed three young lives in December 2015. Horrifically, the victims likely burned alive when their car crashed into a parked tractor-trailer filled with dangerous chemicals. Snapchat is a suspected cause of the car crash because one of the passengers posted several Snapchats on the day of the accident, one of them clocking the car’s velocity at 73 mph. Unfortunately, with over 6 billion Snapchat videos being sent every day as of late 2015, this tragic scenario is likely to be repeated.
What Makes Snapchat Dangerous
Snapchat allows users to send videos, photos, text and other content to other users almost instantaneously. The app is unique in that the received content “self-destructs” 1 to 10 seconds after the message is opened (thereby instantly erasing any evidence of “sexting”). The self-destruct function puts time pressure on a driver who might be checking out a sexually titillating video – once the message is opened, there is little time to look away to check the road, since the message might self-destruct in the meantime. Obviously, Snapchat can also distract drivers who are sending their own content.
Example: Missouri Distracted Driving Laws
For example, distracted driving caused nearly 100 deaths in Missouri in 2015, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol, in addition to hundreds of non-fatal accidents. As of early 2016, Missouri lags behind other states in prohibiting distracted driving – the only restrictions are that:

Drivers under 22 may not text and drive, and
Commercial drivers may neither text and drive nor use hand-held cell phones while driving.

This dearth of statutory prohibitions is disadvantageous to injured victims, because a conviction under a distracted driving law can be used to help win a negligence lawsuit against the driver. Nevertheless, it is still possible to win a personal injury lawsuit against a driver who violated no distracted statute, as long as the plaintiff can prove that the defendant’s conduct was culpable under the particular circumstances leading up to the accident. Six-figure verdicts and settlements are not uncommon in cases of serious injury.
Proposed Changes in Missouri Law
The year 2016 might see the Missouri legislature finally catch up with other states in enacting comprehensive legislation against distracted driving. Several competing bills are under consideration for 2016 that would extend the current ban on texting while driving to all drivers (instead of only young drivers), with the possible exception of hands-free texting.
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