A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety into the effectiveness of sophisticated automobile accident prevention and avoidance systems has found that this technology may reduce rear-end collisions in California and around the country by as much as 40 percent. The nonprofit research organization compared the collision rates of cars with no accident avoidance system, those with a system that provided drivers with an audible warning and those with an automatic braking system.
Many people are killed or seriously injured in California car accidents every year. Though the number of annual traffic fatalities in the U.S. has declined for years, it went up in the first part of 2015. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, there were 9.3 percent more traffic fatalities in the first nine months of 2015 than there were in the comparable period in 2014.
California residents share the roads with many other drivers, but in the future, cars without drivers may be making up part of the traffic. Google's driverless car passed another hurdle in its campaign for approval when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided that if and when driverless cars are on the roads, the software that controls them would be considered to be the 'driver." The news was given to Google on Feb. 4 via a letter from the NHTSA.
On Feb. 2, a California family filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that a long-term gas leak from a nearby plant caused an elderly family member's medical problems to become more severe, ultimately leading to her death. Thousands of residents who were living near the Aliso Canyon plant in Porter Ranch have been relocated temporarily due to symptoms suffered as a result of the gas leak.