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In 20 years, owning a regular car will be like owning a horse: cool, but an unusual mode of routine transportation. Sure, you’ll always have those who prefer driving themselves, but they will become a rarity. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, manually driving a car will soon be as unlikely as seeing a horse and carriage on a highway.

At least, that’s where innovators like Elon Musk think the world is headed, and for good reason. The interest in and production of autonomous (self-driven) vehicles has drastically increased in the past decade, and more car manufacturers are taking the plunge into self-driving technology. Musk has led the crusade with self-driving Teslas, but if the technology continues to improve, conventional manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet and many others will soon have affordable, autonomous vehicles in their lineup as well.

In a recent TEDTalk interview, Musk covered a great many topics, including artificial intelligence and living on Mars. Part of that interview, however, was dedicated to the future of automobiles and, specifically, autonomous cars. Here’s in part what he had to say:

Autonomous Cars Doesn’t Mean Less Traffic

As it stands, public transportation is a vital necessity in big cities. Residents often don’t want to sit in traffic, and the risk of car accidents is enough to keep a lot of drivers off the road. But, when most cars are autonomous, Musk says traffic will be far worse. Why? Shared autonomous vehicles.

Think of it like Uber or Lyft, but without a driver. It’ll likely be much cheaper and more convenient to simply call an autonomous car to pick you up, rather than waiting on a bus. As such, more and more cars will be on the road at any given moment. And with more cars on the road comes more congestion.

Cars Must See Like Humans to Be Successfully Autonomous

As you can imagine, getting autonomous vehicles to actually detect obstacles like other cars, pedestrians, signs and traffic lights is quite a challenge.  Not only will they have to do those things, but they will have to do it as fast and as safely as a human driver. Musk has nearly perfected this aspect in one model of the Tesla. Rather than using laser guided technologies such as LIDAR, like Google uses in their self-driving cars, Tesla uses cameras and GPS to allow their cars to “see” similarly to how a human would.

This technology is called “passive optical.” It’s how humans see the world. RADAR is also used to assist in conditions like heavy rain or snow. Musk says that once vision is solved, autonomy is solved. He plans to prove the effectiveness of this technology by “driving” from Los Angeles to New York completely autonomously by the end of 2017.

Reliability Is the Key to the Market

Road trips are a good way to put the future of self-driving cars in perspective.  If you have had to drive a long distance, chances are you either took turns driving with a friend, stayed awake by drinking a lot of coffee or occasionally stopped for rest at some point along the way.  Being alert and well rested is definitely the safest way to drive. Staying alert and focused won’t be a problem in the future though, because you will be able to rest, relax or even work while your car does the heavy lifting and gets you safely to your destination in a timely manner.  

Musk says this reality is only a couple of years away. It’s a matter of changing the likelihood of a crash from 1 in a 1,000 to, “If you live a thousand lifetimes, there’s still a great chance you’ll never crash.” Of course, with manual cars on the road, being in a wreck that isn’t your fault is still a possibility. But when autonomous cars dominate the market, the likelihood of a wreck drops to practically zero.

So, When Will We Really Have an Autonomous Car?

The way Elon Musk sees it, is that in 10 years, all the cars produced will be autonomous. However, new vehicle production is only about 5 percent of the current fleet. Cars and trucks last about 15 to 20 years before being scrapped. So new vehicle production is only about 1/15th of all the cars on the road. Based on that figure, it will take an additional 5 to 10 years before a majority of the fleet become autonomous.  That means in 20 years there is a very real possibility that all vehicles will be fully autonomous.

Before that can become a reality, though, laws must adapt to autonomous cars. As of now, 21 states have some kind of legislation on the books regulating self-driving cars. In addition, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued new guidelines for the manufacturing of self-driving cars. These guidelines include:

  • Vehicle performance guidelines
  • Model state policy
  • NHTSA’s current regulatory tools
  • Possible new regulations as the technology develops

While owning an autonomous car may still seem like a leap into the world of science fiction, the technology will become a reality.  The future of self-driving cars will change many things in our day to day lives including how we travel and where and when we go. It’s simply now a matter of creating a vehicle that the market will transition from focusing on the owner’s experience of driving to the owner’s new role as only a passenger.  

Rachel blevins auger scholarhip winnerAuger & Auger is proud to announce that Rachel Blevins is one of the recipients of our Fall Semester Disabled Scholar Award, worth $1,000 each. These scholarships are presented twice a year to high-achieving students across America who have overcome their disability and achieved excellence in both the classroom and their community.

Rachel was born with a rare disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). This condition causes her skin to be very fragile; even the slightest trauma can cause blisters. During one such blistering episode as a newborn, the surface of Rachel’s eyes were damaged. As a result, she is visually impaired due to corneal scarring. Before she even reached kindergarten, she had 10 reconstructive surgeries to improve her mobility.

Yet, Rachel refuses to use these hardships as a tool to elicit sympathy from those around her. Rather, she reflects on these challenges to see the struggles she’s already overcome and how those experiences shape her goals. She’s always been a science-minded student. In elementary school, she won first place in state science fairs two years in a row.

Now, she plans to pursue a degree in psychology at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Though earning this degree will be a difficult venture, Rachel lives by the mantra that, “Quitters never win and winners never quit!” This ideal was instilled in her as a child by her parents, who Rachel says have been the most inspirational people in her life.

“My parents have always encouraged me to do my best and compete with my peers,” she says. Their faith in God has inspired me as well, I feel my life has a greater purpose and that God has a plan for me.”

Rachel says she’s also grateful for the doctors, therapists, teachers and others who have helped her succeed in life. It’s these people that have inspired her to get her degree in psychology, then pursue her master’s degree in counseling with a minor in American Sign Language. After she earns her degrees, she wants to work with vision-impaired students at a school like the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh.

Though Rachel has pushed through great adversity in her life, she has seen how her disability has affected how she’s viewed by society. But, she says, that view from society has shown her who her true friends are. Her relationships mean everything to her. She does hope, however, that our society as a whole can look on disabilities with kinder eyes.

“Those of us with disabilities are constantly judged, and first impressions are made based on our bandages, damaged skin, etc.,” she says. “If society could look beyond our disability, whatever it is, and see that we are just ordinary people, overcoming extraordinary obstacles to be contributing members of society, the world would be a better place.”

If you live in the beautiful states of North Carolina or South Carolina, there is a high probability that you have a car and use it to get around.  Whether it’s to work or taking your kids to school or soccer practice, getting around most of the cities and towns across the Carolinas is done by licensed drivers that have their own vehicle.  Sure there are options for people that don’t have their own transportation.  Car pooling, taxis and ride sharing applications make it possible for people to get around and if you are lucky enough to live in a city that has public transportation, that option may also work.  However, most of us drive and driving is a privilege, not a right and that is why it is so important to be a good driver and to always know the ramifications of poor driving decisions may result in the loss of your license.

Most states including the Carolinas use a point system to determine when someone’s license should be suspended or revoked.  Typically there is a threshold for how many points a driver can have before being penalized with the loss of their license.  Depending on your driving history and what you do behind the wheel of your car, losing your license can be for a short amount of time and in some serious cases some people can lost their license forever.  Besides impacting your actual legal ability to have a license to drive, points against your license can affect your car insurance rates and even your ability to get a job. Most people have the obvious desires to avoid accidents, and tickets but accidents and tickets aren’t just problems for your wallet or safety.   So many points on your license in a certain amount of time will very likely result in changes to your legal ability to have a license.

If you are fortunate enough to not have a driving record that has resulted in points on your license, you should be proud of that and you should try to keep up the good work.  Unfortunately many people can’t say that they have do not have any points are on their license. Many of those people do not even know the amount of points that they have accumulated. That can be very problematic if you are on the edge of having so many points that another incident or ticket will result in a suspension. If you are one of the many people that don’t know how many points are on your license, finding an up to date record is very easy, quick and it is free. All you need to know if your license number and other personal info such as your date of birth or social security number.

The following links will lead you to official state provided resources that will help you find out how many points are on your license:

North Carolina –  https://edmv.ncdot.gov/MyDMV/MyDMVAccount/Login

South Carolina – https://www.scdmvonline.com/Public/Authorization.aspx

Follow those links to the DMV for your state, follow the directions and log in to find out this very important information.  It is a good idea to check this info out from time because errors can occur and making sure that the information tied to your license is accurate is very important and can save you trouble in the long run.  Also knowing this information may motivate you to become a safer driver and there is nothing wrong with that.

Auger & Auger is an established law firm that limits its practice to serious motor vehicle accidents and personal injury matters.  If you or someone you know has been injured in North Carolina or South Carolina, please call toll free 1-800-559-5741.  A case evaluation will be provided to you at no cost.

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It’s no secret that distracted driving causes accidents. Even though people know they should focus their attention on the road ahead when they are behind the wheel, they tend to perform a variety of activities while driving. Anything that occurs in your car while you are driving can be a distraction. You could be the source of the distraction or it could be a passenger.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid becoming distracted while you are driving. Use the tips below the next time you slide behind the wheel of your car so that you can keep your attention on the task at hand.

Ways You Can Avoid Distracted Driving

1. Get Up Earlier

You don’t have to set your alarm for an hour earlier than normal – even 15 minutes can give you the time you need to get things done. Grooming, personal hygiene and eating should all be done before you leave the house. Get up early enough to make sure you aren’t feeling forced to do any of these things behind the wheel.

2.  Put Your Phone in the Backseat

When your phone is sitting right next to you, it can be hard to not answer it or check an alert. Put your phone in the backseat and out of your reach. It will take some getting used to, but after a few days you’ll be more comfortable with it. Remind yourself that taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds is dangerous.

3. Secure Everything

Loose items can go flying when you have to stop quickly or you take a turn a bit too fast. Secure all of your belongings so they don’t roll, spill or slide around in your vehicle. If you have a coffee spill, for example, you’ll be tempted to bed down to sop up the liquid. This could be dangerous. If your coffee cup is secure, it won’t happen.

4. Don’t Get Lost

Chances of getting lost during your commute is slim to none. Chances of getting lost while traveling to an unfamiliar destination is much higher. Make sure you have programmed your GPS before you leave and, if you do get lost, pull over to the side of the road to regain your bearings.

5. Keep the Passengers Quiet

Passengers in your car want to talk, either to you or to each other. Kindly ask your passengers to keep their voices down and, if you feel the need, ask them to stop talking altogether. It’s not rude – it’s safe.

If you are involved in an accident in Charlotte due to distracted driving, you have legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for injuries, property damage and more. Do not assume that you have no recourse. Reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys for assistance. Your first consultation will be held at no cost to you. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

Think back to the last time you were sick. Think about the last time you suffered an injury. If you are like most people, you didn’t take it quite as easy as you should have. Maybe you have children who need to be looked after. Perhaps you have a job that doesn’t allow you to take extended sick leave.

No matter the reason, you aren’t one to rest on your laurels, no matter the situation. If this sounds like you, you need to be mindful of your behaviors if you are injured in a car accident.

Post-Injury Behavior

If you have been injured in a car accident and filed a claim with insurance or a personal injury claim in court, you need to be very careful of how you behave. One misinterpreted social media post or a quick trip to the store could have an investigator accusing you of fraud.

1. Stay Home

If you have sustained an injury, stay home for as long as your doctor tells you to do so. Staying home doesn’t mean that you can take a trip to the market or even drive to the fast-food place on the corner. It means that you need to stay home.

2. Get Off Social Media

Don’t post about your injuries while you are recovering. Don’t complain or brag. Don’t post photos of your injuries. Any of these behaviors could get you in hot water.

3. Don’t Exaggerate

Don’t be tempted to exaggerate your injuries after you have been involved in a car accident. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys have been through the investigative process hundreds of times. They know how a strain affects a person, and they know what a broken bone can do to a person. Don’t over-dramatize your injuries in hopes of receiving more compensation – you may not receive any.

Why Is It So Important to Be Honest?

The biggest reason to be honest about your injuries and to follow your doctor’s instructions is to avoid negating any claim for compensation that you follow. Additionally people that fake their injuries in a car accident may be exposing themselves to charges of insurance fraud.

You read that correctly. Not only could you lose out on your chance for adequate compensation, but you could also face criminal charges should you be accused of and found guilty of misrepresenting your injuries following a collision. Depending on the unique set of circumstances, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

You can be accused of faking the severity of your injuries even if you aren’t. It’s in your best interest to avoid the assumption that your injuries aren’t what you have perpetrated them to be. Stay mindful of your behaviors following your car accident.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. Call our experienced car accident attorneys today to discover what those rights are. We will discuss your case with you at no cost and help you determine which steps to take.

If you have been involved in a car accident, either on your own or with one or more other vehicles, your biggest hurdles will come after the crash. Recovery can be a long process, especially if you have been seriously injured. In many instances, people have to deal with not only physical recovery, but mental recovery as well. The emotional trauma some sustain as the result of a car accident is very real and must be taken as seriously as physical injury.

Emotional Healing Tips

If you are experiencing mental anguish or anxiety after a car accident, it’s important to understand that what you’re feeling is real. You aren’t making it up. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and you need to look after yourself. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Take all the time you need. Don’t be in a rush to feel the same way you did before the accident. Be patient and give voice to your feelings. The stress and anxiety you are feeling is not unusual, and it will take time to get your emotions in check.
  2. Talk it out with someone you trust. Don’t try to keep your anxiety bottled inside – it will only make it worse. Talk to a family member or friend that you trust. Putting words to your feelings will do more for you than you may think.
  3. Take care of you. It is not unusual for people who are feeling anxiety about anything to begin neglecting themselves. Make sure you are eating and sleeping and try to get some exercise. Do not self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
  4. Get out and try to enjoy life. Pick up a new hobby or visit with old friends. Do not get so mired down in your mental turmoil that you lose your zest for life.

When Professional Help May Be Necessary

Not everyone can deal with their anxiety on their own. There may come a time when you need professional help. If your thoughts are worrying you, if your anxiety is preventing you from taking care of yourself, or your anxiety has persisted despite having tried to cope on your own, it is time to reach out for help.

When your anxiety and stress lasts for an extended period of time, you may have a more serious condition. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real possibility following a car accident and is typically handled differently than “everyday” anxiety.

No matter how you choose to help yourself, make sure that you do. Your feelings are valid and experienced by many after a collision. Do not be embarrassed about how you feel and know that there is help available.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Charlotte, reach out to our experienced team of attorneys for assistance today. We will review your case at no cost to you and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your case evaluation.

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