GM announces plans for driver-monitoring systems

Distracted driving is front and center in many conversations about road safety in recent years, and for good reason. Federal crash data shows that distraction-related car accidents claimed at least 3,328 lives in 2012 and resulted in another 421,000 nationwide.

Although New York law takes a relatively tough stance on one of the most common and dangerous sources of driver distractions - cellphones - enforcement is not always possible, and many drivers remain dangerously preoccupied. In the not-so-distant future, however, cars themselves may be involved in the process of preventing traffic accidents by making sure drivers are focused on the road.

General Motors recently announced that it will soon begin using technology that monitors a driver's eyes and face to detect signs of fatigue and distraction. When these systems determine that a driver may be sleepy or inattentive, they can be programmed to issue an alert and suggest corrective measures.

The vehicle manufacturer said it will be installing the devices in approximately 500,000 vehicles over the next five years. Although this is a relatively new development for passenger vehicles, similar technology is already being used in other contexts such as mining and long-distance trucking to help minimize accidents.

A new era of vehicle safety technology

A number of other vehicle manufacturers have also begun incorporating driver-monitoring systems, and still others offer driver-assistance features such as automatic braking systems. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced recently that it is planning a proposal to require new vehicles to include car-to-car communication systems that will help drivers detect and avoid external hazards.

The trend appears to be pushing toward a new era of so-called "self-aware" and semi-autonomous cars. While some drivers balk at the concept, proponents of the developing technologies say these and other technological advances could help prevent countless accidents, injuries and deaths.

Drivers liable for accidents caused by negligence

For the time being, at least, it is still up to drivers themselves to ensure that they are attentive, well rested and otherwise capable of driving safely. This is an obligation that they owe not only to themselves and their passengers, but also to everyone else on the road.

When a driver causes a crash as a result of fatigue, distraction or any other form of unsafe driving, he or she can be held financially liable to anyone who is harmed by the accident. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash, you may be entitled to recover compensation for a variety of damages, such as lost income and medical expenses. A lawyer with a background in personal injury law can help you explore your options and will work with you to pursue a maximum recovery.