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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

Alongside Tech, Litigation Has Pushed Advance Toward Safer Cars

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Tuesday, September 5, 2023   

Technological upgrades are making cars safer, but action in the courtroom has also pushed companies to make vehicles less dangerous.

James Rogers, a product liability and personal injury attorney in Seattle and a member of the Washington State Association for Justice, said the evolution of automotive product liability litigation, or crashworthiness, became important in the 1980s, holding automakers accountable for things like defective seat belts and malfunctioning air bags.

"A lot of crashworthiness cases have made the cars safer, like roofs have become stronger over the years and there have been a lot of motor vehicle safety standards that have increased," Rogers outlined. "A lot of that can be attributed to, I believe, the effect of litigation."

Rogers pointed out automakers have reduced component failure in cars, making crashes less likely to be life-threatening.

Rogers noted recent developments in collision avoidance technology are also positive, including lights on rearview mirrors that turn on when someone is in a car's blind spot, and technology to keep a car in its lane by braking if it crosses the centerline.

Rogers emphasized lawsuits have been filed because the technology can sometimes be an expensive add-on when purchasing a car.

"The question in collision avoidance technology is, should they have been in vehicles when the knowledge was there and they were in other vehicles? That's what those cases are about," Rogers contended. "But collision avoidance technology is great because it prevents crashes from happening."

Rogers believes the safety options should be standard in every vehicle. He also stressed collision avoidance technology is the bridge to autonomous vehicles, which are also using such features to make vehicles safer.

Disclosure: The Washington State Association for Justice contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Housing/Homelessness, and Human Rights/Racial Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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