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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

traffic-3098816_1920-300x225A rollover crash in Tamarac, Florida has left two teen girls dead, according to reports from Florida traffic homicide detectives. 

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office released a report stating the accident happened at Tamarac intersection Thursday morning. 

Reports indicate that a 14-year-old boy was driving the car with three other teen passengers. As the car entered the intersection, a pickup truck smashed into the passenger side of the vehicle, resulting in the car flipping over. Two teen girls, 13 and 16, were killed. The 14-year-old driver and a 16-year-old passenger both suffered injuries that required hospitalization. 

The 68-year-old truck driver suffered no harm, according to reports. 

No further information has been made available at this time, but it has been reported that no charges have been filed yet. 

Rollover accidents have the very real potential to be fatal, as this case highlights. This is due to the fact that rollover crashes tend to be pretty violent collisions. Any car has the ability to rollover, but certain vehicle types are more prone to rolling over. Narrow, tall vehicles like SUVs, trucks, and vans have higher centers of gravity compared to smaller passenger vehicles, which makes them more likely to rollover in the event of an accident. 

Speed also plays a pivotal role in rollover crashes, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reported that nearly 40% of all rollover crashes involve cars travelling at excessive speeds. Another interesting fact, ¾ of fatal rollover crashes took place on roadways with a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour or higher. 

The NHTSA also reports alcohol is a factor in half of all rollover collisions. It is important to highlight that driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is never a good idea as this can negatively impact your good sense of judgment, muscular coordination, and vision, which only increases your odds of losing control of your car. 

Driver behavior also plays a big role in preventing rollover crashes. Data from the NHTSA shows that more than 90% of vehicles involved in rollover collisions were engaged in routine driving behaviors, such as making a turn or travelling straight, when they crashed and flipped their vehicle. Data further shows that 85% of rollover deaths happen in single-vehicle collisions. These numbers suggest that distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, inattentive drivers, and speeding all contribute to an increased likelihood of a vehicle rollover crash. 

If you are involved in a rollover crash, there are things you should do to protect yourself and any passengers. First and foremost, our South Florida Auto Accident Attorneys Whittel & Melton urge you to seek medical attention right away. Even if you feel fine, you need medical care to make sure that you do not have any physical injuries that may not be immediately apparent. You never want to delay medical treatment, as you may have a very serious injury that you have yet to discover and delaying care can only make the injury worse. You will also want to notify law enforcement right away to get to the scene. They will need to report their findings and keep the area safe. If possible, it is a good idea to take pictures and get the contact information for any witnesses. 

When it comes to rollover accidents, our South Florida Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help victims recover for their injuries. We are equally as dedicated to helping family members who have been killed in auto accidents recover for their losses through a wrongful death lawsuit. Multiple parties can be responsible for a rollover accident, so it is very important for us to identify the at-fault parties early on in the investigation so that we can file the right claims. 

Rollover accidents can be complicated matters, but we are well equipped to handle these types of cases, as well as all auto accident claims. Victims of rollover accidents may be entitled to financial compensation for their suffering and we can help you evaluate your accident and determine what steps you can take to recover damages. 

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Florida has been ranked as one of the nation’s worst states for safety laws and enforcement, according to a new report from a watchdog group.

Florida is one of 12 states that fall “dangerously behind” laws recommended by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.

Among the problems the group found in Florida: Inadequate primary rear seat belt laws, which mean law enforcement cannot stop a vehicle simply because a seatbelt is unbuckled. The state does have a primary front seat belt law.

Nationwide, 47% of the 22,697 people killed in passenger vehicle riders were not wearing seat belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,099 lives were saved in Florida in 2017 because of seat belt use. Had others been buckled in, though, it said 181 more lives could have been saved.

MOTORCYCLE HELMETS AND CHILD SEATS

Florida also received low marks for not requiring motorcycle riders of all ages to wear helmets. It’s one of 31 states without that requirement. The state allows riders over 21 to go without a helmet as long as they have a certain amount of insurance coverage.

The state also scored low in child safety laws. Florida is one of 35 states that does not require infants and toddlers to sit in a rear-facing child restraint system at least through age 2.

The report also said Florida lacks a good law requiring children who have outgrown the height and weight limit of a forward-facing safety to sit in a booster seat until he or she is 8 years old and 57 inches tall. Thirty-four states have such laws.

State law does require children age 5 and under to be “secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device,” and children up to age 3 “must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat,” according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Children under 18 must wear seat belts.

Florida does somewhat better as children get older. In the decade between 2009 and 2018, the Advocates report found. There were 3,533 fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes involving drivers aged 15 to 20. Nationally, the crash rate for teenage drivers is three times the rate of older people.

Florida did receive good ratings for some restrictions on young drivers, but falters in the report because of no nighttime restrictions for such drivers or restrictions on passengers.

The state gets mediocre marks for efforts to discourage distracted driving. While it bans text messaging while driving, the organization finds its efforts to restrict cell phone use as inadequate.

The report aims to promote the idea that as technology improves, so does the potential to prevent crashes that result in injuries and death.

Big challenges still remain for Florida. Catherine Chase, the organization’s president, cited “critical safety issues that must be addressed,” including standards to measure driver assistance technology and autonomous vehicles, further measures to combat drug-impaired driving, better safety for rear seat passengers and more protection for pedestrians and bicycle riders.

This study shows Florida’s “report card” for five different categories: occupant protection, child passenger safety, teen driving, impaired driving, and distracted driving. “Grades” of Green (Good); Yellow (Caution); and Red (Danger) provide an assessment of each state’s efforts. Florida received a “grade” of Red, which equates to “Danger.” It makes sense seeing that tens of thousands of people are killed on our nation’s roads every year. That breaks down to approximately 100 people killed every single day and nearly 7,500 more are injured in motor vehicle crashes. These traffic accidents carry a significant annual economic cost of $242 billion. This results in each person living in the U.S. essentially paying a “crash tax” of $784 every year. 

If you have been in any kind of car accident, then you know just how traumatic the experience can be. Knowing that living in Florida only stacks more odds against you gives you a greater reason to protect yourself. If you are involved in an auto accident, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to provide you with the right legal help.

If you have been in a car accident in Florida, we urge you to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers. We know how overwhelming life can be after a car accident, and we can help you take the next steps towards securing financial compensation for your damages.The last thing you need is the added stress of fighting with insurance companies while the medical bills keep piling in.

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Officials are searching for a driver who they believe fled the scene of a crash involving a stolen truck, a vehicle and a Lynx bus.

The Florida Highway Patrol Orlando said it is investigating a crash involving a Lynx bus.

Troopers said the accident happened Sunday afternoon near Texas Avenue and Honour Road when the driver of a Nissan pulled in front of a pickup truck and a bus along Texas Avenue.

A witness said a driver came toward her and other oncoming traffic to avoid the crash. The driver lost control and slammed into a wall, the witness said.

Officials said the crash was a hit-and-run, as the driver of the pickup truck fled the scene.

Two people from the Nissan and four other people were taken to the hospital for treatment. The severity of their injuries is not yet known.

FHP officials and deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office are working to find the driver who fled the scene.

Many people use public transportation, such as Lynx buses as opposed to their own vehicles for numerous reasons like saving money on gas, convenience, and reduced emissions. Some transit riders simply prefer to relax and do other things rather than focus on driving their own car in traffic.

While it is true that you are more likely to be injured while driving your own vehicle than while riding on a bus or public transit, serious injuries and fatalities can and do happen when accidents occur involving buses, trains, light rail, and hired transport.

What Does Lynx Do after a Bus Accident?

You may be wondering what Lynx does after a bus accident occurs. The first thing Lynx representatives will do is have passengers complete forms. Any information you provide could be used against you during a lawsuit if it’s beneficial to Lynx. On that same note, anything that could help your case and points the blame on Lynx could go undiscovered.

After passengers complete these forms, Lynx will then try and get statements on the record from passengers involved in the bus accident. They will use professionals who have been trained to ask questions that could get you to answer in a way that is harmful to your potential case and beneficial to theirs. Because of this, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to refrain from signing any forms or making any statements without an attorney present.

The last thing that Lynx will do after an accident happens is reach out with a settlement offer. Lynx representatives will reach out to the injured passengers or family members of a deceased person and likely give an offer way below what the case is actually worth. Before they disburse your settlement, they will ask you to sign a settlement agreement that waives your right to file suit against them. Again, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton strongly recommend having a lawyer on your side who can advise you on how to proceed with your case for financial compensation. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Lynx bus accident or a crash involving a taxi, Uber, or Lyft driver, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand what steps to take next. We have the experience needed to help victims of transit accidents obtain the financial compensation they deserve for the injuries they have suffered. We help injury victims throughout the state of Florida who were harmed while aboard a hotel shuttle bus, theme park trolley, monorail, limousine, rental car, or any hired vehicle of any kind. 

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Actor and comedian Kevin Hart suffered major back injuries after a car crash in Malibu, California, early Sunday.

Hart was riding as a passenger in his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, with the driver and another passenger in the vehicle, when it rolled into a ditch at about 12:45 a.m. local time, the California Highway Patrol confirmed. 

The driver crashed the muscle car after turning onto Mulholland Highway.

Walmart offers grocery pickup, but they are not stopping there. 

Walmart is now teaming up with Ford to explore autonomous car delivery in what it’s calling a pilot effort.

This is part of Walmart’s strategy to innovate when it comes to serving customers, according to a blog post written by Tom Ward, Walmart U.S. senior vice president, digital operations.

“Retail is changing at a rapid pace, and what’s ‘easy’ in 2018 might feel old-fashioned in 2028. In fact, Walmart is already offering grocery delivery in nearly 100 metro areas and is continuing to innovate to find new ways to serve customers — better, faster and easier,” wrote Ward.

Walmart, he noted, just conducted a small pilot with Waymo to determine how customers will want to use self-driving vehicles when it comes to grocery shopping. The Ford pilot is taking place in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. The chain currently partners with Postmates for Miami customer delivery. Postmates is already connected to the Ford digital platform, the blog noted.

“Walmart and Ford agree autonomous vehicles have an important role to play as we consider the future of delivery. Before self-driving cars can go mainstream, we must get a better sense of how people want to interact with them. Together, we will gather crucial data to learn the best way to bring items to customers,” wrote Ward.

As with all new technological advancements, there have been a number of safety concerns regarding driverless cars. Autonomous cars are passenger vehicles equipped with various sensors, cameras, and other technologies that allow them to detect, navigate and respond to a driving environment without constant human input. The impacts that self-driving cars will have on roadway safety have yet to be seen at this point. Many companies testing out these vehicles have learned there are many flaws that must be figured out before these cars can operate safely on roads and highways. Some of these companies that are developing and testing driverless cars, like Google’s Waymo, Tesla, Argo, Cruise, and Uber, have pumped the brakes on getting these vehicles on the roads by this year as they are learning that making autonomous vehicles is harder, slower and costlier than they initially thought.

Even though autonomous cars are programmed to respond to a variety of circumstances, they are not yet up to speed on eliciting the proper response from other motorists sharing the roads. IN 2009 during a Waymo test drive, the autonomous car stopped for a passing pedestrian, but was then rear-ended by a motorist following it. This erupted some concern that blending autonomous vehicles into a world of unpredictable drivers would present more challenges. 

Moreover, the sensors, radar systems and other technology in self-driving cars can be very effective at detecting the conditions surrounding a vehicle, but only when conditions are good. So if there is any inclement weather like rain, snow or sleet, the technology can be far less effective at adapting to the driving environment. On that same note, poor road conditions like faded paint dividing lanes of traffic or potholes, etc. can trip up the technology in autonomous vehicles, which could easily lead to miscalculations, errors and possibly even accidents.

There are still very few regulations in place regarding the technology, safety testing and implementation of self-driving cars. There is also little to no legal framework regarding liability for any accidents caused by autonomous vehicles. Federal and state officials are still working to get regulations in place before self-driving cars share the roadways with the rest of the driving public. Our Florida Auto Accident Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are following the evolution of driverless cars very closely. While we fully support any technology that can decrease the number of injuries and fatalities that result from car accidents, we want these test vehicles to be glitch free before they are mixed in with the rest of the driving population. As auto defect lawyers, we will be closely watching the evolution of driverless cars. While this technology might be inevitable, we strongly believe that these test vehicles should not be put out on the roadway until all glitches are ironed out. While it is said that nearly 94 percent of traffic crashes are caused by some form of human error, and that driverless cars will prevent car accidents, reduce injuries and save lives, it is safe to say at this point driverless cars are not there yet. Despite this groundbreaking technology, we don’t think it should come at the cost of driver safety and human lives.

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Just one year ago, Detroit and Silicon Valley had visions of putting thousands of self-driving taxis on the road by 2019, thus filling may of Americans minds with thoughts of soon to be driverless cars.

Now, these vehicles have yet to arrive and it will likely be another few years before they do. 

Several carmakers and technology companies have concluded that making autonomous vehicles is going to be harder, slower and costlier than they thought.

“We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, said at the Detroit Economic Club in April.

In more recent news, Ford and Volkswagen said Friday that they were teaming up to tackle the self-driving challenge.

The two automakers plan to use autonomous-vehicle technology from a Pittsburgh start-up, Argo AI, in ride-sharing services in a few urban zones as early as 2021. But Argo’s chief executive, Bryan Salesky, said the industry’s bigger promise of creating driverless cars that could go anywhere was “way in the future.”

Why the delay? Human behavior.

Researchers at Argo say the cars they are testing in Pittsburgh and Miami have to navigate unexpected situations every day. Recently, one of the company’s cars encountered a bicyclist riding the wrong way down a busy street between other vehicles. Another Argo test car came across a street sweeper that suddenly turned a giant circle in an intersection, touching all four corners and crossing lanes of traffic that had the green light.

“You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them,” Salesky said. “With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.”

Salesky said Argo and many competitors had developed about 80 percent of the technology needed to put self-driving cars into routine use — the radar, cameras and other sensors that can identify objects far down roads and highways. But the remaining 20 percent, including developing software that can reliably anticipate what other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are going to do, will be much more difficult, he said.

A year ago, many industry executives exuded much greater certainty. They thought that their engineers had solved the most vexing technical problems and promised that self-driving cars would be shuttling people around town in at least several cities by sometime this year.

Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced that it would buy up to 62,000 Chrysler minivans and 20,000 Jaguar electric cars for its ride service, which operates in the Phoenix suburbs. General Motors announced that it would also start a taxi service by the end of this year with vehicles, developed by its Cruise division, that have no steering wheels or pedals.

Honda and the Japanese tech giant SoftBank invested in Cruise. Amazon, which hopes to deliver goods to its shoppers by driverless vehicles, invested in Aurora, another start-up in this area.

Everyone was overly optimistic about self-driving cars. Companies believed all that had to be done was to throw in some sensors and artificial intelligence. 

The industry’s confidence was quickly dented when a self-driving car being tested by Uber hit and killed a woman walking a bicycle across a street last year in Tempe, Ariz. A safe driver was at the wheel of the vehicle, but was watching a TV show on her phone just before the crash, according to the Tempe Police Department.

Since that fatality, expectations were reeled back in. 

Elsewhere in the United States, three Tesla drivers have died in crashes that occurred while the company’s Autopilot driver-assistance system was engaged and both it and the drivers failed to detect and react to hazards.

Companies like Waymo and G.M. now say they still expect to roll out thousands of self-driving cars, but they are much more reluctant to say when that will happen.

Waymo operates a fleet of 600 test vehicles, which is the same number it had on the road a year ago. A portion of them are the first set of vehicles it will be buying through the agreements with Chrysler and Jaguar. The company said it expected to increase purchases as it expanded its ride service.

China, which has the world’s largest auto market and is investing heavily in electric vehicles, is trailing in development of self-driving cars, analysts say. The country allows automakers to test such cars on public roads in only a handful of cities. One leading Chinese company working on autonomous technology, Baidu, is doing much of its research at a lab in Silicon Valley.

Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, are nearly alone in predicting widespread use of self-driving cars within the next year. In April, Musk said Tesla would have as many as a million autonomous “robo taxis” by the end of 2020.

Tesla believes its new self-driving system, based on a computer chip it designed, and the data it gathers from Tesla cars now on the road will enable the company to start offering fully autonomous driving next year.

But many experts are very skeptical that Tesla can pull that off.

Some companies argue that the way to get more self-driving vehicles on the road is by using them in controlled settings and situations. May Mobility operates autonomous shuttles in Detroit, Providence, R.I., and Columbus, Ohio. These are not minivans or full-size cars, but six-passenger golf carts. They travel short, defined routes at no more than 25 miles per hour. In many cases they provide public transportation where none is available.

The company has been running six shuttles between the Providence train station and Olneyville, a growing neighborhood a few miles away, since May. The trial is backed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, which is paying May Mobility $800,000 for the first year of service. The company expects to take its service to Grand Rapids, Mich., this year, in a partnership led by the city. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., May Mobility has raised $33 million from investors, including a $10 million round led by Toyota and BMW.

Also this year, a Boston start-up, Optimus Ride, plans to begin operating driverless shuttles at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that also travel at 25 m.p.h. or less.

At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys are obvious advocates for roadway safety because we see the devastating impact of serious accidents each and every day. The hope for autonomous vehicles was, and still is just possibly in the more distant future, to dramatically decrease in motor vehicle accidents. Should those hopes and visions be achieved, many innocent loves will be saved.

In recent years, car accident fatalities have been on the rise. According to data gathered by the National Safety Council, there were approximately 40,000 traffic accident fatalities in the United States in 2016. This is the highest number of deaths since 2007, when motor vehicle safety features were nowhere near as advanced as they are today.

The financial impact of personal injuries and wrongful deaths from auto accidents are huge. Motor vehicle accidents cost the U.S. well over $800 billion every year. Experts have concluded that 9 out 10 car accidents are caused by human error, so if and when autonomous vehicles are up to speed to take on all these human foibles, they just may indeed make the roadways safer.

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Tesla’s driver assistance tools are being challenged yet again in court. 

This time, a Florida driver is suing the electric car maker for negligence and breach of duty after a collision with a disabled vehicle on Florida’s Turnpike that destroyed the front end of his Tesla Model S.

The man says the collision, which happened while he was doing around 80mph on Autopilot, left him with “severe permanent injuries.” He is seeking unspecified monetary damages. 

In addition, the lawsuit also claims that Tesla is misleading consumers into believing its Autopilot system can safely transport passengers at highway speeds.

When you engage Tesla’s Autopilot at over 50 mph it has trouble finding stationary objects and parked cars. 

In May of this year, Tesla settled a class action lawsuit from drivers who had bought cars with Autopilot 2.0, a feature that cost an extra $5,000 per vehicle, and which the drivers said was dangerous and unusable. In the settlement, Tesla put $5 million in a fund for legal fees and to compensate buyers of the enhanced Autopilot package from 2016 and 2017 with payments of $20 to $280.

While Autopilot’s enhanced features are Tesla’s incremental steps towards developing a fully self-driving car, these vehicles are not self-driving yet.

While Tesla’s Autopilot system can handle a range of driving conditions, it’s not designed to stop for parked cars or other stationary objects when traveling at highway speeds.

Tesla released a major Autopilot software update last week. Tesla’s new ‘Navigate’ feature on Autopilot “guides a car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits.” However this warning is also added: “Until truly driverless cars are validated and approved by regulators, drivers are responsible for and must remain in control of their car at all times.”

A closer look into the autopilot issue could reveal that the problem is how these cars are being marketed. The driver in this lawsuit claims that a Tesla sales representative reassured him he only had to “occasionally place his hand on the steering wheel and that the vehicle would ‘do everything else.’”

In September, a driver from Utah lodged a similar complaint after her Tesla hit a stationary fire truck at a red light while on Autopilot. The woman said Tesla sales people told her she only had to occasionally touch the steering wheel of the Model S while using the Autopilot mode.

In response to the Florida lawsuit, a Tesla spokesperson said that they are unable to review the vehicle’s data from the accident because “the car was incapable of transmitting log data to our servers.” The spokesperson went on to say, “However, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot malfunctioned or operated other than as designed.”

Tesla also stressed that driver vigilance remains paramount. “When using Autopilot, it is the driver’s responsibility to remain attentive to their surroundings and in control of the vehicle at all times. Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents, and Tesla goes to great lengths to provide clear instructions about what Autopilot is and is not.”

Tesla has the following information available on their website regarding Autopilot: 

Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that enhances safety and convenience behind the wheel. When used properly, Autopilot reduces your overall workload as a driver. 8 external cameras, a radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a powerful onboard computer provide an additional layer of safety to guide you on your journey.

Autopilot is intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time. While Autopilot is designed to become more capable over time, in its current form, it is not a self-driving system. There are five levels of automation and Autopilot is currently classified as a Level 2 automated system according to SAE J3016, which is endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tesla’s Autopilot program is clearly not infallible. Just like other machines, the system is susceptible to defects. While these vehicles equipped with Autopilot features are advertised as being able to prevent or avoid accidents, this case shows that that is clearly not always the case. 

In personal injury claims stemming from auto accidents, the main aspect of the lawsuit is proving who is to blame. This can be a heated and complicated debate. In normal car accident claims, the careless or negligent driver who caused the accident is usually found to be liable for damages. However, when a self-driving car is involved in a collision, there is no driver to hold accountable. This presents the issue of product liability because a piece of machinery and a computer is involved. The only way to hold a computer accountable is to sue the entity or company that designed or programmed the computer. There are other legal issues involved as well, which can further complicate personal injury or wrongful death claims. 

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Driverless semi-trucks could be sharing Florida highways as early as next year, according to recent reports, and there will be no requirement that surrounding motorists know it.

These autonomous driving systems will not need to be tested, inspected, or certified before being deployed under a new state law that takes effect July 1.

Starsky Robotics, a San Francisco-based startup company that’s been testing its driverless trucking technology in Florida and Texas, has put out a call for job applicants who one day want to pilot big rigs remotely.

Starsky envisions its remote drivers logging onto computers in an office environment to take the reins of its trucks during the first and last miles of their long hauls.

That means the trucks will be on autopilot for the vast majority of their highway journeys.

Driverless deployments should begin in Florida by the end of 2020, Starsky says.

That’s much sooner than 2027, the year consulting firm McKinsey & Company projects fully driverless trucks will be ready to hit the highway.

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill enacting the law in a ceremony at SunTrax, the state’s new autonomous vehicle testing track in Auburndale.

While the law will also open the door for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to deploy fleets for commuter use, DeSantis’ signing ceremony was staged in front of a Starsky-branded semi-truck.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer, a Duval County Republican, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, the new law replaces an existing one that required a human driver be present and able to take over driving chores in autonomous vehicles operating on public property for any other reason than testing.

Brandes, Fischer and other proponents of driverless vehicle technology say automated systems will make transportation safer by removing the potential for human error. Driverless technology proponents envision a day in the not-too-distant future in which most driving becomes automated, freeing commuters to stare into their smartphones or their dashboard video screens.

The safety requirements under the new state law are limited.

Companies will be allowed to deploy their systems with no state inspection or certification.

Owners of autonomous commercial vehicles will be required to carry at least as much liability insurance as the state requires for commercial vehicles driven by humans. Currently, that means a minimum level of $300,000 in combined bodily liability and property damage coverage for trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 44,000 pounds or more, and lesser amounts for lighter vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles used for “on-demand” networks must be covered for at least $1 million for death, bodily injury and property damage, the law states.

Autonomous vehicles also will be required to achieve what’s called “minimal risk condition” — such as coming to a complete stop and activating their hazard lights — if their operating systems fail.

Existing traffic laws requiring drivers to promptly notify law enforcement agencies of crashes and then remain on scene to provide information or render aid will be exempted if law enforcement is notified by a vehicle’s owner or by the vehicle’s automated system.

When asked how Starsky Robotics plans to assure Floridians of the safety of the company’s driverless trucks, Starsky founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher said only that the company, founded in 2016, has been working with all relevant authorities, including the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Turnpike Authority, and those agencies’ federal counterparts.

The company has also developed a “Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment,” based on recommendations from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, that will guide how its vehicles will react to unforeseen circumstances.

Starsky this week launched a campaign titled “The future of driverless trucking is not driverless” to attract recruits willing to drive in its fleet of 36 traditional over-the-road rigs before — if they make the cut — transitioning to the autonomous truck side. Those drivers will work at a computer in a fixed location and go home to their families between shifts, the company said.

In Florida, the company will locate its remote drivers at its facility in Jacksonville, a spokeswoman said.

The company currently has three trucks capable of autonomous operation but expects to have up to 25 by next year as it begins removing human drivers. Florida will be among the first states where it will run driverless trucks.

The company completed a seven-mile driverless test on a closed-off rural road near Lake Okeechobee in February 2018. It expects to conduct another test sometime this year, Seltz-Axmacher said.

This new wave of autonomous trucks is propelled by the rapid growth of e-commerce, retailers such as Amazon are busy automating as much of their supply and delivery chains as possible, and shipping is a major cost component ripe for disruption, according to reports.

Keeping drivers on the road for a month at a time has become a huge problem for the trucking industry, where the turnover rate for at large carriers averaged 89 percent in 2018 — two points higher than the previous year, according to the American Trucking Association.

Consumers’ demand for cheap goods and cheap shipping costs means haulers want to pay truck drivers cheap wages. That contributes to a 60,000-driver shortage in the U.S.

Paying someone $50,000 to $60,000 a year isn’t enough to keep them behind the wheel of a truck for a month, so the logic to solving that is to remove a person from the cab entirely.

Florida is not just testing out driverless big rigs. In Clearwater Beach, they are testing out driverless buses. Orlando is testing out a small driverless bus that soon will maneuver around Lake Nona. Driverless shuttles could be cruising Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville very soon. And in just a few months, Gainesville residents will be among the first in the state to travel for free through their town in a driverless shuttle.

Driverless cars, buses, shuttles and semi-trucks are officially upon us and no longer just  a thing of the future. These autonomous vehicles have been designed with cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence and algorithms to replace human drivers and eliminate human error, which is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, car accidents and bus accidents across the country. The hope is for these driverless vehicles to operate safer than human drivers, who can become distracted, drunk and careless when behind the wheel.

Much like everything else, nothing is perfect and these driverless vehicles can absolutely find themselves involved in an untimely collision. This will bring a whole new wave of car accident lawsuits, and it will certainly be interesting to see how these claims play out. Just like regular auto accidents between human drivers, driverless motor vehicle crashes will require thorough investigations to determine liability.

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Florida’s new distracted driving law, or texting while driving, goes into effect July 1, and law enforcement agencies across the state are preparing for how they will enforce it.

As far as enforcing the rule, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokesperson said it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

The Sheriff’s Office said texting violations will be treated like any other primary offense traffic violation.

Deputies expect challenges from drivers trying to find loopholes around getting a citation, because they exist.

According to officials, drivers can still use their GPS, look at weather or traffic alerts, or call in an emergency.

Traffic judges might see more work as a result.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said their enforcement will go through an education period. They’ll give out a warning the first time.

But drivers better make changes, because getting pulled over multiple times for texting while driving will end up in a ticket.

A hands-free requirement while driving in school and work zones goes into effect in October.

Citations will not be handed out for this violation until January 1, 2020.

This new law that makes texting while driving a primary offense as opposed to a secondary offense is meant to curb dangerous and deadly behavior while behind the wheel. Distracted driving accounts for more teen deaths than drunk driving, and kills 9 people of all ages every day across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Car crashes in Florida rose by 11 percent from 2013 to 2016, but collisions caused by problems stemming from distracted driving, like drifting out of a lane, sideswiping another car or simply blowing through a stop sign, increased by 40-50 percent.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate your crash thoroughly and determine if the other driver involved in your accident was using their cellphone or otherwise driving while distracted. We will use this evidence to establish that the other driver was indeed at fault, which may result in a more favorable outcome when pursuing financial compensation.

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A woman who was driving without a valid license is accused of fatally hitting a 13-year-old girl Wednesday morning as the teen was riding her bike to school.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 25-year-old woman from Argentina who had been staying in the Kissimmee area.

According to deputies, the woman was driving a minivan around 7:50 a.m. Wednesday when she struck the 13-year-old student in the Poinciana/Kissimmee area.

The eighth grader was on her way to Lake Marion Creek Middle School when she was hit. The child was airlifted to Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, where she later died.

The man told deputies she has been in the U.S. on a “visitor pass” since October of 2018. She presented an Argentinian identification card to investigators.

Deputies said condensation covered approximately 80% of the woman’s windshield at the time of the crash, obstructing her view.

She has been charged with operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license causing death, a third-degree felony.

If your son or daughter has been killed in a pedestrian or bike accident, this is a tragic time for your family. It is important that you do not accept an insurance company settlement as compensation for your loss without consulting our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. A sudden death in a family can take its toll not only emotionally, but also financially. Not only are family members grieving an irreparable loss, but they are also struggling to deal with medical expenses and funeral and burial costs, which can add up quickly.

The insurance company does not care about your family’s welfare or your losses. Their goal is to offer you the least amount of financial compensation possible so they can get rid of your claim quickly. During such a challenging time, you need our Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys on your side as we have successfully handled numerous fatal pedestrian accident cases.

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