Michigan Helps Lead the Country In Autonomous Vehicle Regulations

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Trying to keep up with the fast-growing autonomous car industry, more than 50 bills have been introduced in 20 states to establish some type of regulation for self-driving vehicles. The Detroit Free Press predicts that autonomous vehicles will transform business models by reducing personal car ownership, restructuring urban and suburban development, and eliminating millions of transportation jobs while at the same time creating many more jobs. Michigan was one of the first states that adopted legislation to make it easier for automakers to test self-driving vehicles on a public road without a driver. Governor Rick Snyder said in December, “We should we proud we’re leading the world, right here in Michigan.” 

Legislation in Michigan also “allows automated platoons of trucks to travel together at set speeds” and “allows networks of self-driving cars that can pick up passengers.” Additionally, Ford’s self-driving Fusions and GM’s self-driving Chevrolet Bolts have been cleared for more testing. 

Michigan is not alone in passing autonomous vehicle legislation. 21 other states and Washington D.C. have also passed legislation or adopted regulations based on a Governor’s executive order. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

However, the lack of uniformity among states may be confusing for owners of self-driving cars and could potentially harm innovation. Chan Lieu, an advisor to the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets (whose members include former Google driverless car project Waymo, automakers Ford and Volvo, and ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft) mentions, “If you had 50 different requirements for 50 different states, each state (might do it) different. It’s going to be very, very difficult to build a vehicle to be effectively sold across the country.” This is all the more reason to distinguish states such as Michigan, as leaders in regulating the autonomous vehicle industry. 

Currently, “states are balancing a desire to be viewed as beacons of innovation while also seeking to protect their residents from technology that remains unproven on a large scale.” Federal regulations, on the other hand, may take years to propose and implement new rules on autonomous cars. This timeline may clash with the fast pace self-driving technology is moving at. 
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In the past, individual states have regulated driver behavior while the federal government has regulated the vehicle itself. A House subcommittee was scheduled to meet on June 27, 2017 to discuss several drafts of 14 self-driving bills in Washington D.C. Gary Peters, a US senator representing Michigan, said legislation should be introduced in the next few weeks that will lead to “a complete re-write of federal regulations for motor vehicles when you take the driver out of the car.” US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in Detroit, Michigan last month, that the presidential administration will reveal revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months, in order to “incorporate feedback and improvements recommended by numerous stakeholders.” 

Yet with automakers quickly developing autonomous technology, it will likely be up to individual states to create updated regulations as improvements are made. Safety is the main priority for states looking to support advancements while at the same time minimizing motor vehicle collisions. Jessica Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “We know this technology can save lives. It can mean mobility for millions of people. So we see all the advantages to it, but at the same time we’re tasked with making sure this technology is safe.” 

With Toyota and the University of Michigan collaborating on autonomous vehicles and the US economy preparing for big changes from self-driving cars, it is no surprise that the state of Michigan is heading towards a safe and supportive environment for future technology. In Detroit, major automakers are the backbone of autonomous improvements. USA TODAY Network reports that GM announced the production on 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolt test vehicles at its plant in Orion township last month, fulfilling the company’s promise to help maintain Michigan’s leadership in the autonomous car industry. Ford is also among automakers that have proposed to launch a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021. 

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There is no doubt that the Great Lakes State will do innovative things in the coming years as it helps develop and regulate self-driving cars. However, safety is vital when testing new technologies, as even seemingly perfect dream vehicles may put passengers at risk for being involved in motor vehicle crashes. Above all, autonomous vehicles are breaking new ground in the transportation industry, and it will be up to lawmakers-at both state and national levels-to keep up. 


The State of Michigan is the birthplace of cars, and continues to make strides in the automobile industry. As self-driving technology rapidly develops, states like Michigan are working to regulate autonomous vehicles at a similar pace. Safety remains the main priority, as no state wants to compromise the lives of citizens because of a cool car with no one driving it. If you or someone you know has been involved in a severe motor vehicle collision, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Birmingham Makes The Move To Smart Parking Meters

The City of Birmingham, Michigan is joining Ann Arbor, Detroit, and other nearby Michigan cities in the trend of modern parking technology. The city's outdated coin-only parking meters have been replaced with smart meters that offer the option to pay for parking with a credit card. Visa, MasterCard, and Discover are all accepted by the new meters.

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The City of Birmingham will actually be absorbing the processing fees associated with using credit cards to pay for parking. Visitors will also have the option to pay via Parkmobile, an app that allows for people to pay for parking on the go. Payments appear both on the meters and on mobile devices, offering a convenient option for people running late or without spare change to pay to park legally.

Vehicle detection sensors also allow parking patrons to use phones, computers, and in-vehicle apps to locate parking nearby Birmingham destinations, such as shopping, dining, and recreational activities.

With other downtown areas around Metro Detroit leading the way, Birmingham is transitioning from stress and wasted time to easy and convenient options for finding a vehicle parking spot. When drivers cannot find a parking spot, they may linger in lots looking for open spots or block traffic on streets - actions that may possibly lead to an automobile accident. The new smart parking meter technology will help minimize confusion and risks for drivers, and will provide yet another reason to visit Birmingham, Michigan.


Easily accessible and easy to use parking in popular areas around town is important for visitors and residents alike to have an enjoyable experience in downtown Birmingham. As always, it is important to follow safety signs and watch for other moving vehicles in order to help prevent a parking accident. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a motor vehicle crash in Birmingham, Michigan, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Stay Safe At The Summer Drive-In Theater

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Summer is in full swing, and with kids everywhere out of school, parents are looking for ways to keep their children busy. While the pool, park, and zoo are excellent options for a fun day out, many Michigan families are spending summer evenings at the drive-in movie theater. A drive-in typically takes place in a large parking lot, where vehicles can pay to park and watch movies on theater-size big screens, as they sit comfortably in their cars and listen to the sound on the radio. Some drive-ins even have concession stands where people can buy snacks and drinks. The drive-in movie theater is an entertaining way for parents to use their cars for something other than driving, while making the kids happy, too.

The drive-in movie theater is not a new concept. In fact, they weren’t even called drive-ins originally, but a “park-in” because of the parking lot movie theater setting. In the summer of 1933, motorists parked their cars on the grounds of Park-In Theaters in Camden, New Jersey, the site of the first ever drive-in movie theater. As the idea caught on, more drive-ins popped up all across the country. According to HISTORY.com, one of the largest drive-ins featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid’s playground, and a full service restaurant, spread out across 28 acres. If only extravagant drive-ins like that existed today, parents would never have to worry about their children being bored!

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Today, however, there are less than 350 drive-in theater locations across the country. Luckily for Michigan residents, the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (UDITOA) says our state is home to 8 different theaters with 18 total movie screens. Metro Detroit is home to two drive-ins: the USA Hockey Arena Summer Drive-In located just off M-14 in Plymouth, and the Ford Drive-In in Dearborn. Movies begin at dusk, and films change weekly, showing everything from Disney cartoons to the latest action blockbuster. 

However, just because vehicles are parked at the drive-in, does not mean they aren’t still dangerous. Children often run around and play in the parking lots at a drive-in as they wait for the movie to start, putting them at risk for a severe injury or fatality from a moving vehicle nearby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends summer motor vehicle safety tips, including tips for kids.

Motorist and Child Safety Tips for Drive-In Theaters

  1. When backing out of a parking space at the drive-in, walk around your vehicle first to look for children running and playing. Children playing are often oblivious to cars around them.
  2. When using a backup camera, it is important to remember that kids might be out of view, but may still be in the path of a vehicle. Additionally, all vehicles have blind spots that increase in size as the height and size of the car increases.
  3. There are lots of people and vehicles moving around upon entrance and exit to the drive-in, so drivers must pay attention to their surroundings and parents must watch out for their children so as to prevent a motor vehicle from backing or running into a pedestrian.

Summer drive-ins transform everyday vehicles from modes of transportation to a relaxing place to kick back and catch the latest movie. The rare and old-school format of drive-ins make them fun for families of all ages. Still, warm weather calls for summer safety tips, and safety at the drive-in is just as important as on the roads. Anytime a motor vehicle is involved is an opportunity to practice automobile accident prevention safety, and the drive-in movie theater is no exception. 


Summer is a great time to enjoy the warm weather at a local drive-in movie theater. Children playing at the drive-in should watch for moving vehicles and drivers must be aware of their surroundings, in order to prevent an injury or fatality from a car crash. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Tips On Driving During Heavy Winds and Storms

A couple of months ago, in February 2017, a semi-truck driving on a highway got caught in high winds and toppled over, landing on top of an unoccupied police cruiser. Fox News reported that the truck driver drove the semi after ignoring a high wind advisory banning commercial vehicles from that particular area of the highway, close to nearby Elk Mountain. Wyoming Highway Patrol Lieutenant Kelly Finn said that wind speeds were close to 70 m.p.h. at the time of the accident.  

While Michigan isn't currently experiencing such a magnitude of winds, forecasts expect thunderstorms for the rest of the week. This week's thunderstorms could deter Michiganders from driving to the beach or relaxing out on the porch. The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC would therefore like to take the time to remind Michigan motorists how they can safely drive in severe weather conditions, including high winds and heavy rain. 

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Safety Tips for Driving In High Winds and Storms

In bouts of extreme weather, the first safety precaution drivers can take is to remain in a specific location, such as home, and avoid driving in dangerous situations completely. 

If venturing out into the bad weather is unavoidable, the Defensive Drivers Team suggests that drivers check local weather reports and take note of any high winds, blizzard, flooding, or other extreme weather advisories that have been issued in the areas they plan to drive in.

When driving in a storm, motorists should remember to pay close attention to the road. Drivers may better focus on the road by turning down the radio, silencing or ignoring cell phones, and properly securing any pets in the vehicle so they don't cause a disturbance. Minimizing these distractions keeps drivers alert for instances in which storm debris or trees may be blown into the driver's path. Drivers should also remember to keep their headlights on since storms typically darken the sky. 

In addition, drivers should give large vehicles such as semi-trucks, tractors, RVs, and buses more space, as these vehicles may be more difficult to control in extreme weather. No one can anticipate sudden gusts of wind, so driving slower than normal and making lots of extra space for other motorists on the road may help ensure motorist safety. Drivers should also take safer, local routes and avoid speedy highways, rocky terrain, and routes through infrastructure such as tunnels and overpasses, which can potentially be damaged during storms. 

As for driving in windy weather, head and tail winds, or winds coming from the front and back of a vehicle, are not too difficult to deal with. A slight adjustment in speed or acceleration may allow the driver to compensate for these winds. On the other hand, side winds are the ones that create the most trouble for drivers. If strong enough, these winds can blow a vehicle off course. In the event that a driver finds themselves caught in a side wind, they should remember to not panic or move the car too abruptly if they feel the vehicle being pushed in the other direction, and instead move smoothly and gently to stay on the road. 

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Tips For Driving In Heavy Rain

High winds and storms also bring precipitation. Heavy rainfall or a large snow melt may cause puddles to form, many with depths too hard to judge from behind the steering wheel. RAC, a British automotive service company, warns, "If it’s clearly too deep for your car, find another way to your destination." Drivers might find themselves in a harrowing position if driving through a puddle that is particularly deep and may cause their car to float. Water can also cause a vehicle to stall or breakdown. It is important to ignore the urge to try and crank the vehicle back to life in order to avoid further damaging the engine. Instead, drivers should wait for a professional to arrive and attend to the vehicle. This might even serve as an alarm for other drivers to follow safety tips to possibly avoid a serious car accident. 

With the looming threat of thunderstorms in Michigan this week, drivers and passengers are encouraged to follow these extreme weather safety tips to stay safe and help prevent an accident like the one which occurred in Wyoming. It is difficult to predict what the sky will do next, but motorists should practice driving safely in extreme weather, in order to reach their destinations before the next lightning bolt hits. 


All motorists could benefit from paying attention to the road and heeding wind and storm advisories this summer. If you or a loved one have ever been in a car accident, caused by extreme weather conditions, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today. Call 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation with an experienced attorney, today.

New Traffic Signal Helps Save Pedestrian Lives

One New York City suburb has gone without a single pedestrian-motor vehicle accident in the past year. Leonia, New Jersey has implemented a new traffic signal for one of the area's busiest crossroads. The intersection between Fort Lee Road and Broad Avenue has introduced an all-red phase traffic signal, stopping traffic in all directions for 26 seconds every other cycle. 

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The intersection is often congested with vehicles trying to take a different route across the Hudson River, other than the crowded George Washington Bridge. With all four directions temporarily turned red, pedestrians can safely cross the busy intersection and even cross diagonally if desired.

During the two years before the introduction of the all-red signal phase, 7 pedestrians were hit by cars at the intersection. One New Jersey woman was dragged more than 70 feet along the road, leading to her death.  

Mayor Judah Zeigler told USA TODAY, “If we had kept going down the course we were going down, it was really a matter of when, not if, another pedestrian would be killed.”  

Senior citizens, who take longer to cross the road, and students benefit the most from the all red-signal, according to Chief Thomas Rowe of the Leonia Police Department. Many students walk to a nearby elementary school that is less than a block away from the intersection. School foot traffic coincides with rush hour, further clogging the roads and endangering pedestrians. 

Rowe said, “The benefits have been exactly what we were hoping for, and there’s absolutely no reason for us to go back to the way it used to be. I can’t allow our pedestrians to be put in danger.” 

While some motorists have complained about traffic being further delayed by the all-red signal phase, it is clear that pedestrian safety is the number one priority for the city of Leonia. 

Throughout the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says on average, a pedestrian is killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes. Considering this staggering statistic, it is no surprise that towns such as Leonia are taking steps to improve pedestrian safety. In addition, both pedestrians and drivers can take steps to keep roads safer. People on foot should use sidewalks to cross streets whenever possible, be visible with bright or reflective clothing, and never assume that automobile drivers see them. Motor vehicle operators on the other hand, should always watch for pedestrians, slow down, and be prepared to stop when approaching a crosswalk, and use extra caution in hard-to-see conditions, like at night or in bad weather. 

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Accidents happen; that's reality. However, efforts taken by cities like Leonia to make roads safer for pedestrians may help prevent serious injuries or fatalities from car crashes. Everyone has been a pedestrian at some point in their lives. If all it takes to keep people on their feet is stopping at a red traffic light for 26 seconds longer, more cities need to take note in order to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions. 


Chickens aren't the only ones trying to cross the road. Pedestrians walking on busy roads are constantly at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle, even when all they want is to get to the other side. If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian motor vehicle collision, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Man Dies In Flint Area After Crashing Stolen Police Car

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A 24-year old Michigan man has passed away after stealing a Michigan State Police car early on the morning on July 9, 2017, and crashing it 20 miles away. 

MLive reports that police officials were called to the area of M-55 and Plank Road in Tawas shortly after 4 AM, to look for a man driving a golf cart along the road without headlights. 

Phillip Everett, of Greenbush, Michigan in Alcona County, was stopped by troopers and arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. As troopers worked to secure the golf cart, Everett was able to move into the driver’s seat of the police car and drive away at high speeds. 

Law enforcement discovered a short time later that Everett had crashed the patrol car at southbound US-23 near East Bessinger Road in Arenac County. He died as a result of his injuries sustained in the crash. 

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Drunk driving crashes kill 1 person every 51 minutes in the United States, despite all 50 states making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. As in Everett's case, driving while impaired may lead to arrest, serious injury, and even death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends the following safety tips to help prevent drunk driving:

  • If you will be drinking, plan on not driving. Plan a safe ride home before you start the party. Designate a sober driver ahead of time or plan to use a ride-sharing business like Uber or Lyft.
  • If you become unexpectedly intoxicated, do not drive for any reason. Once again, call and Uber or call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. The NHTSA also has a SaferRide mobile app available, allowing users to call a taxi or friend and identify their location so they can be picked up. 
  • If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys, take them home, or help them arrange a sober ride. 
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life. 

Drunk driving can lead to serious injuries or fatalities. Reckless driving and speeding may also lead to accidents, endangering drivers, passengers, and people in other motor vehicles and on the roads. If you or someone you know has been involved in a severe car crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

The Impact of Autonomous Cars on the US Economy

There has been continuous buzz about self-driving cars over the past few years, with successful tests and disastrous accidents alike, being reported in the news. There is no doubt that such a ground-breaking invention will change transportation norms throughout the United States, just as Henry Ford’s automobiles forever changed the way to get around the country.

In fact, Wired reports autonomous vehicles are expected to add $7 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 35 years, based on data from Intel and research company Strategy Analytics. This is no small number, considering just robotic cars alone could add $2 trillion to the nation's economy by 2050, not even taking into account the current jobs and businesses that will be affected financially. To put these numbers into perspective, $1 trillion could buy about 40 million new cars, according to Kiplinger. But what makes up this enormous number?

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Self-Driving Cars and Jobs

Autonomous cars are predicted to positively influence the economy in the coming years, but their impact will be spread unevenly across sectors. Companies like Google and GM who have invested in making this technology a reality, will see the most money. Then, for the average Joe, the industries that will likely see a rise in job demands include data analysis, IT, and mechanics. Just like our smart phones and credit cards, autonomous cars collect data on a driver's habits, which in turn creates jobs for humans who need to sort and analyze this data. Intel reports jobs in information technology (IT), though they will see a shift from actual discovery of information to the management of machines finding information, will almost double in intensity. Additionally, the number of miles driven is expected to rise, increasing the need for cars, self-driving or otherwise, to be repaired by mechanics. 

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On the other hand, there will also be a decline in jobs, especially for people working in the service industries. Jobs like food delivery and taxi services may no longer be needed with the use of self-driving cars. This brings into effect the concept that Intel and Strategy Analytics call "The Passenger Economy," an idea which places economic and societal value on pilotless vehicles. Essentially, why hire humans to do a job that cars can do on their own? While they profit either way, this is a question that companies like Uber will have to face when replacing human drivers with company vehicles. 

It should also be noted that self-driving cars may create jobs that are still unknown. After all, with new technologies come new jobs the market previously did not anticipate. On the flip side, new technologies could also make jobs that currently exist obsolete. No matter which sectors see an increase or decline in job security, the fact remains that the American economy will still receive an estimated $7 trillion economic boost (or even even bigger-no one can put an exact number on the future!) Just like the Model-T helped restructure city spaces and bring the suburbs into existence, autonomous vehicles have the ability to transform job markets. There are endless possibilities for economic reform.

Autonomous Car Regulations

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Though all the glory of creating thousands of new jobs and boosting the economy sounds appealing, it does not happen without the technology meeting all safety standards first. Which is why, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is not counting their chickens before their eggs hatch. The NHTSA has released the Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles, a document which, "outlines best practices for the safe design, development and testing of automated vehicles prior to commercial sale or operation on public roads." Included in this document is a 15-point safety assessment that requires manufacturers to meet objectives such as operational design, post-crash response, privacy, and cybersecurity before their cars can go to market. Considering that 94% of automobile crashes are due to human error, there is definitely room for technology to advance driver safety. Hopefully, if all autonomous vehicle manufacturers can meet the standards set by the NHTSA, this will be a step in the right direction to saving lives. 

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

What does all this mean for people who are willing to give up their spot behind the wheel and let the car drive itself? (That is a scary thought for a lot of people!) Well, most people want more proof that these cars won't crash and will safely deliver them to their destination before they surrender the wheel. That is why companies who create autonomous car technology need to be regulated to ensure absolute safety in their products and so that consumers are not just paying for the newest trend in transportation. Put simply, this technology needs to save lives and be safer than the transportation methods we already have. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute said to Consumer Reports that “there’s no way that we as a society would accept self-driving cars that cause the same number of fatalities as humans.” 

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In 2015, there were roughly 35,000 traffic deaths in the United States. Future autonomous vehicles must allow for more safety if they are to replace human drivers. People also need to remember that transportation technology takes years of planning before it can be used in everyday lives, and that for now, only people can drive cars. Testing allows room for development and improvement, but overall “we expect machines to be better than us,” as Pratt said.

Until it's proven that autonomous vehicles are safer than human-operated vehicles, humans need to be careful when driving on the road today. While we may one day be able to sleep while a car drives us around, we have to make sure that for now, we don't fall asleep behind the wheel! Sleepy driving, distracted driving, and drunk driving are bad human habits that can lead to serious injuries and death in the event of a car crash. By following the rules of the road and maintaining good driving habits, people can protect themselves from being involved in fatal car accidents. 

At the end of the day, it is impossible to plan the future or to predict how large of an impact autonomous vehicles will have on the economy or auto law. What we do know is that self-driving cars will add jobs, take away jobs, and, based on how well they are regulated, even save lives. 


Self-driving cars are growing closer to reality than we think due to the rapid development of technology. However, today, we still rely on people to drive vehicles, and as such, following the rules of the road is the best way to stay safe and to avoid motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you know has been in involved in an auto accident, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.