- The system doesn’t work as intended. Perhaps the most interesting question for drivers is how reliable a safety feature like lane detection really is. Will the car always know what a lane is? If the car can impede steering in some way, could that create its own safety hazards? For someone who is injured in an accident where a safety system may not have worked correctly, a products liability case against the manufacturer of the car or its safety system may be an appropriate remedy.
- A driver disregards warning signals. How much liability does a driver have if a lane departure system provides an audible warning, but the driver ignores it? Drivers may have a good argument that having an optional safety system does not create an explicit legal obligation to pay attention to it. However, disregarding a car’s warnings may provide one important piece of evidence that a driver was not paying attention at the time of the accident. As such, ignoring the lane departure system may form at least part of a foundation for a claim of negligence against the driver.
- The system was turned off at the time of the accident. Lane departure systems are typically equipped with a switch to turn them off. Some drivers don’t like to hear alarms every time they change lanes. Some don’t the idea of the car taking control. And as already mentioned, just because an optional system is onboard doesn’t mean that the driver has an obligation to use it. That a system is disabled could be a factor in an accident if a driver is used to having it on, but for whatever reason it has been turned off and the driver isn’t aware of it. In such cases, the driver may be relying on the system to drive in an irresponsible way, such as texting while driving with the expectation that the system offers a degree of extra safety. In a sense, this kind of driver may actually be less safe as a consequence of placing too much reliance on a safety feature.
Lane departure warning systems are among the new innovations auto manufacturers are building into their cars to help drivers avoid accidents. The systems use sensors built into the car to detect a lane and sound an alarm if the driver veers out of the lane. Some systems will even take partial control of the vehicle to keep the car moving in a straight line. For drivers who are distracted or tired, this feature can be a significant safety enhancement. Lane departure systems raise interesting legal questions that can become important in the event that a vehicle equipped with such a system gets into an accident. Here are some potential issues that can arise: