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. 

And The Winner For Most Googled Car In Michigan Is...

A recent analysis of the cars frequently Googled in every state discovered that the Lincoln MKC Compact SUV is the number one vehicle Googled in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. This may come as a surprise to some people, who may have expected a classic Ford or GM model to take the top spot.

Other states had less shocking number ones, such as California’s search for the Tesla 3 and New England’s desire to look up the Volvo XC90. The Buick Cascada, though it only sold 3,445 throughout the country, won over the states of Missouri and Indiana. In addition, the Buick Enclave SUV is No. 1 for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, and Kentucky. These findings solidify Buick’s Midwest takeover, at least according to Google. Interestingly enough, a car that Hyundai no longer produces was the leader in two states; the Equus sedan was most searched in Maryland and Virginia. 

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The results of the analysis, done by auto care company Gold Eagle and marketing specialist Digital Third Coast, emphasize the shift in consumer buying patterns from cars to trucks, as a truck or SUV topped the list in 34 states. Still however, the Ford F-150 did not lead a single state, despite its status as America’s best selling vehicle, for longer than Google searches probably existed. Its larger relative, the Ford F-350, led Alaska and Montana, possibly suggesting that car consumers truly do believe bigger is better. 

Some people may have doubts about the link between financial success and number of web searches. They have good reason to; Honda, for example, one of the most distinguished automakers, sold 1.6 million vehicles in the US last year, but failed to gain the largest number of searches in any state. 

When buying a car, people like to stay informed about the newest models and safest features. Word of mouth is always a good way to hear about the most popular cars or the worst parts of driving this or that. But, you also can’t go wrong with good ol' Google. Most importantly, knowledge of one’s vehicle and driver safety are the ultimate steps for motor vehicle operators and nearby pedestrians to take in order to help avoid a becoming involved in a car crash. 

If an online search engine can help keep motorists in the loop, it doesn't matter which car model is number one, as long as driver safety is the main priority.


The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC is a civil litigation firm that handles all types of accidents. Whether we're handling a car, truck, bicycle, bus, pedestrian, or horse accident, we work hard to ensure that our client receives any and all benefits they may be entitled to, under Michigan law. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a motor vehicle crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

The 23rd Annual Woodward Dream Cruise Is Coming Up!

Residents and visitors to the Motor City are rejoicing as one of Metro Detroit’s most famous events is quickly approaching. The 23rd annual Woodward Dream Cruise will take place on Saturday, August 19th, 2017. For the first time, the Woodward Dream Cruise will be sponsored by Ford Motor Company because General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet brand discretely dropped their sponsorship after 6 years. Mark LaNeve, Vice President of US marketing sales and services for Ford, told the Detroit News, “(The) Dream Cruise is all about the sheer joy and freedom of the automobile, and Ford has always celebrated car culture. From Fiesta to GT, we’re obsessed with making driving fun, and we’re committed to celebrating that passion with enthusiasts of all ages in the birthplace of motoring.” 

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The Dream Cruise originated as a fundraiser for a soccer field in Ferndale in 1995. Nelson House and a group of volunteers were hoping to recreate the old school car heydays of the 1950s and 1960s on Woodward Avenue, which was America’s first highway. To House's surprise, 250,000 people showed up! That was 10 times the expected number! Today, the Woodward Dream Cruise has evolved into the world’s largest one-day automotive event. The Detroit News describes how “spectators and cruisers travel to Metro Detroit, the birthplace of the American automobile, to demonstrate and participate in an event that celebrates an ongoing love affair with the automobile.”

The popularity of the yearly event only confirms the passion for old cars and connections to the auto industry’s long history that people everywhere enjoy. Each year, the Woodward Dream Cruise contributes $237 million to southeast Michigan's economy, along with attracting more than 1.3 million people to the event. The Detroit Free Press says 28% of these visitors are from outside the region. What keeps spectators coming back from more is the consistency of the old cars combined with the latest in motor vehicle technology.

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President and CEO of the Dream Cruise, Tony Michaels, says, “There’s nostalgia, but we also have to think of younger generations,” other than the 1960s muscle car fans that first originated the event in 1995. Detroit automakers will display their latest performance and technology vehicles alongside the classics, appealing to all ages.  

The Woodward Dream Cruise itself might just be a one day event, but there are some other car related festivities happening in the Metro Detroit area in the days leading up to it. The week leading up to the Cruise will begin with Roadkill Nights on August 12, with Dodges drag racing down a part of Woodward Avenue in Pontiac, Michigan. Last year, the drag racing event was held the day before the Woodward Dream Cruise, but the hope is that moving it a week earlier will make it easier for more people to attend. 

As for the Woodward Dream Cruise attractions, the General Motors design staff will showcase their personal collector cars from 1 PM -7 PM on Tuesday, August 15, at Memorial Park, which is located at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak. There will also be displays in Royal Oak, Michigan at Duggan’s Irish Pub and at Normandy Plaza. Ford owner clubs will also show their vehicles at Memorial Park in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan. 

The City of Ferndale, Michigan also has its own plans for the Woodward Dream Cruise as they have planned 3 days of Dream Cruise festivities beginning on Thursday, August 17. The events include a live broadcast of Detroit Public TV’s “Dream Cruise Road Show,” vintage police, fire, and military vehicles, TV and movie cars including the Batmobile, Munster Koach, and Monkeemobile, monster trucks, Mustangs of all eras, and a free outdoor screening of 1984 “Ghostbusters” movie. 

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The official start of the Woodward Dream Cruise will technically be on Friday, August 18, with a ribbon cutting at Woodward and 9 Mile in Ferndale, followed by a lights and sirens parade up the avenue in vintage emergency vehicles. As the countdown to the big day begins, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC wants to encourage motor vehicle safety at all times for spectators and drivers alike, so as to help prevent any car crashes or pedestrian accidents. Now, polish your old ‘Stang and roll down the roof, because the Dream Cruise is about to shift into full gear! 


There's just something about driving around in an antique convertible, top down and hair blowing in the summer breeze, that attracts thousands of people to the Woodward Dream Cruise each year. With motor vehicles of every shape and make cruising around Metro Detroit, it is hard for anyone to not enjoy the classic Michigan event. However, having so many drivers and spectators around so many vehicles can also increase the risk of car accidents and pedestrain crashes happening. If you or someone you know have been injured in an automobile crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Chrysler Portal: A Concept Vehicle Made With Millennials In Mind

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They've popularized the selfie, revolutionized the uses for social media, and thrive off of constant action. Who are they? They are millennials of course!

Also known as Generation Y, millennials  are the youngest generation of adults, made up of people born from 1980-2000, who are currently coming in to their own in today's world. While most associations to millennials seem to be negative, for example, one big stereotype is that millennials are lazy and narcissistic, they are the future of the world and of the economy. Recently, however millennials have been labeled as “ruining the American economy,” since statistics have shown that millennials commute by car less than any other generation, thus raising concerns for the multi-billion dollar auto industry. 

To address this lack of millennial car consumer demand, Chrysler unveiled its all-electric Portal concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, 2017. Fiat Chrysler, CNN News reports, is said to have spent 20 years conducting research on these potential customers, understanding their behavior and greatest vehicle desires. There is little surprise that technology was found to be the main requirement millennials were looking for in their cars. With the constant connections and multi-tasking young people do nowadays, both at home and in the workplace, automakers are developing new products with a different crowd in mind.

Chrysler Portal Concept Car

Chrysler Portal's Millennial Inspired Vehicle Features

  1. Portal’s most touted feature involves something as millennial as it gets: selfies. The car is able to take a photo of all six passengers, and then send the image to everyone’s mobile device so it can be shared on social media, connected via plug-in ports.
  2. Another important aspect of Portal is its music, a valuable part of the driving experience for potential millennial customers. The car allows everyone in the vehicle to combine their songs and videos into one shared playlist to listen to while on the road. Portal’s stereo also has “zoned audio” that lets passengers listen to different audio in different parts of the car, without wearing headphones. This technology also can amplify certain external sounds for the driver, like the sound of sirens from an approaching ambulance.
  3. A display screen on the car’s ceiling lets the vehicle’s occupants access a shared playlist from the passengers’ mobile devices, along with putting together things like a drive-thru dinner order. Portal can even pay for the dinner order by linking payment information with the feature.
  4. Portal also has a fully customizable interior. Indoor LED accent lighting can be changed to any color, and car sears may be moved back and forth along tracks and even removed completely to create more storage space. 
  5. All-electric, Chrysler's proposed vehicle can drive up to 250 miles on a full charge. In fact, just 20 minutes of charging allows vehicle operators to drive 150 miles. Not only is this convenient, but it caters to millennials' environmentally friendly mindset. 
  6. While Portal still has a steering wheel and pedals, its limited self-driving capabilities keep the product current with autonomous car technology. The steering wheel is able to fold into the dashboard when not in use. 
  7. Perhaps most importantly to the busy, career driven young person, Chrysler’s millennial-focused vehicle uses cameras with facial recognition software mounted on the outside of the car to recognize people approaching the vehicle. That allows for custom interior and entertainment features to automatically be set up for the passengers before they even enter the vehicle. Portal sounds like it has everything a millennial could ever dream for!
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While automakers are busy working to develop new vehicles with millennial customers in mind, cities on the other hand, are continuing to expand public transportation and other alternative forms of getting around. This recent growth in alternative transportation including city bike share programs, like Detroit's own MoGo, is why Citylab predicts that millennials will rely less and less on cars. Additionally, people who have more money tend to drive more, and millennials just aren’t making much income right now.  Also, this age group cares more about their environmental impact than other generations, choosing other forms of transportation to get around in order to keep the planet clean.  

Chrysler seems to be on the right track in gearing their new motor vehicle concepts towards millennials. However, it is important to remember to focus on the road at all times, as fancy selfie features and multitasking audio systems may increase the chances of a car crash due to distracted driving. Millennials can call themselves the “cool” generation all they want, but new cars like the Portal must promote safety as well as tech savvy, because nothing is cool about causing a car crash.


By designing a vehicle tailored to millennial preferences and driving style, Chrysler's concept vehicle could become a hit among America's biggest generation. However, with the introduction of even more technology in the car, millennial drivers must remember to always keep their eyes on the road, no matter what angle the in-car selfie is snapping a photo from. If you or someone you know has been involved in a distracted driving car accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.

Michigan Leads Development of Smart Roadways

Michigan is looking to lead the nation in developing smart road technology that will allow intersection signals and construction zones to alert next generation vehicles about upcoming red lights, lane closures, and traffic areas ahead. According to The Detroit News, General Motors and Macomb County, Michigan have partnered up to begin testing smart road safety features that can tell future cars to begin braking when traffic lights are about to turn red. Michigan has also begun testing 'connected construction zones' on Interstate 75 in Oakland County that can alert cars with 'vehicle-infrastructure-capability' about upcoming lane closures. Vehicle-infrastructure-capability allows vehicles to communicate with roadways, construction zones and traffic signals through smart technology.

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These 'connected construction zones' operate by advanced-tech roadside bar codes that are able to communicate information from construction zones to oncoming vehicles. These smart traffic signal systems can even tell the difference between construction workers from traffic barrels for the safety of both the worker and driver as well. Reportedly, these roadside bar codes are intended to be the system that will navigate autonomous vehicles in the future. Michigan has already established 100 miles of connected roadways and plans to expand to 350 miles in the future. Automakers and auto suppliers alike in Southeast Michigan have already begun planning for this transition by testing autonomous vehicle technology on Michigan roadways.

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Citizens of Michigan who are interested in knowing what these road signals look like, should look out for bar codes signs with black and white 2D codes that have been implemented on I-75 in Oakland County. These signs appear to be QR codes that can be scanned by smartphones, however, they can only be read by test cars with vehicle-infrastructure intuition. 3M Company provided these signs for Michigan, and Tammy Meehan, global portfolio manager for 3M Connected Roads, explains that these signs contain pinpoint GPS navigation, can alert vehicles of upcoming construction zones, and can estimate the time it takes to drive through work zones. These smart traffic signal systems can even tell the difference between construction workers from traffic barrels for the safety of both the worker and driver as well. 

Outside the GM Tech Center in Warren, advanced technology has been implemented into traffic lights by Macomb County on Mound Road between 12 Mile Road and 13 Mile Road. These lights are able communicate with Cadillac CTS test sedans that possess vehicle-infrastructure capability. The Detroit News reports that the smart traffic signals and sensors calculate the driver’s speed and the time in which the traffic signal will turn red, to determine if the driver needs to begin braking. In such a case, a yellow light glows on the driver’s infotainment screen and their seat begins vibrating. This is intended to prevent the driver from running the red light or crashing into another vehicle.  The smart traffic signals work within a 1,000-foot radius.

Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive, stated that for the past five years Macomb's infrastructure department has been installing advanced sensors and cameras to develop smart highways. Hackel explains that the partnership with GM, in addition to the $13.5 million-dollar creation of the Communications and Technology Center (COMTEC) that opened in Mount Clemens in 2013, have been a part of the County’s ongoing infrastructure investments. COMTEC has allowed for the development of Michigan traffic-monitoring, weather-mapping, road-department cameras, and a video wall with 40 monitors.

Kirk Steudle, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, stated that Michigan continues to partner with automakers and suppliers for the research and development of autonomous vehicles and smart technology. Kirk claims that advanced vehicle-infrastructure communication could reduce 80% of car accident fatalities.

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While Michigan making great headway, it is not alone in its efforts to develop smart roadways. Other states, including Ohio, have begun testing and implementing connected roadways as well. Ohio has decided to invest $15 million into developing the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor using advanced fiber-optic cables and wireless sensors for connected roadway and autonomous vehicle testing. Ohio plans to expand connected roadways to I-270 and I-90 as well.

The smart technology innovation that Michiganders are experiencing before them will transform the way we mobilize, by making transportation far more efficient and safer. The ability for autonomous vehicles and connected highways to communicate may greatly reduce car accident fatalities in the future. Yet, it will still be some time before Michigan citizens are able to experience this transformation. In the meanwhile, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC will continue to update blog readers on the development of smart roadway technology and its effects on drivers in Michigan and across the country.


Whether you've been involved in an auto accident with with a driverless car or were struck by a negligent driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. for a free consultation. Our firm assists victims of car accidents in recouping any benefits they may be entitled to under Michigan law.

Sterling Heights Lawsuit Against Macomb County, Over Sinkhole, Dismissed

Michigan residents are used to infrastructure issues such as potholes and even sinkholes frequently occurring due to Michigan's status as the land of lakes and tempered weather. Lately however, Michiganders are becoming exasperated with dealing with the financial and infrastructural fallout of these destructive holes. In December 2016, a particularly dangerous sinkhole in Fraser, Michigan appeared on 15 Mile Road and Eberlein Street, causing residents to be evacuated from their homes and for part of 15 Mile Road to be closed down.

The sinkhole was caused by a sewer line that is currently being funded and fixed under the Macomb Interceptor Drainage District (MIDD) which is made up of county and city entities including Fraser, Utica, Macomb Township, Clinton county, Harrison County, and Sterling Heights, to name a few. The MIDD tasked Sterling Heights with submitting a share of $22.2 million dollars toward funding repairs. The city of Sterling Heights was outraged with the portion of money that they were tasked to raise and responded with a lawsuit on May 8, 2017, against Macomb County. Sterling Heights claims that the county should be responsible for the repair cost, and not the citizens of the communities affected by the sinkhole.

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How The Sinkhole Was Created

As Fraser Public Safety's Lt. Mike Pettyes explains, the main 11-foot-wide sewer line - that lies 55 feet underground -  had a break that allowed waste and water to wash out the dirt and sand that supports the structures above ground. Once the supporting layers of dirt were washed out, it caused a gap that allowed for the land above, to sink into the hole in order to fill it in. Also, this isn't the first time a sinkhole has happened in this area. Back in August 2004, a sinkhole grew to be 160-feet long and 60-feet wide appeared as a result of a collapsed sewer line and was closed to the public for 10 months.

Sinkhole Repair Costs And Necessity

Based on current inspections, the sinkhole is expected to cost $75 million dollars to repair, if the pipe doesn’t completely collapse before it is repaired. $70 million of this enormous amount is supposed to be paid by 25-year-old bonds owned by Macomb County and the remaining $5 million is to be covered by state grants. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) uses the sinkhole as evidence that Michigan’s infrastructure is in need of improvements. This statement is sufficiently supported by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) who gave Michigan’s infrastructure a D on it’s report card back in 2009. The latest reports show that in 2011, Michigan still wasn’t making the grade with nearly 1,300 of the 11,022 bridges in 'poor' to 'failing' condition, 22% of the major roads in 'poor' condition and 66 of its waste sites being put on the national priorities list.

Sterling Heights Lawsuit Dismissed

Crumbling Overpass

The MIDD contracted the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) back in 2010 to deal with repairs and upkeep of the sewer line. However, the MCWDD failed to do their job. As a result, the city of Sterling Heights was issued a bill for $22.2 million dollars of the estimated $75 million repair cost. This is a cost that Mayor Michael Taylor of Sterling Heights argues is unfair to his city, its residents, and its businesses to pay for, due to the “breach in contract” on MCWDDs part.

However, Macomb County Circuit Judge Jennifer Faunce didn't think so, which is why she dismissed Sterling Heights' lawsuit in favor of the MIDD's argument that the lawsuit was preventing the sewer line from being fixed. But, this may not be the last time the MIDD will face trouble from Sterling Heights. Mayor Taylor says that he is disappointed by Judge Faunce's decision and is currently reconvening with the city's attorney and the City Council to figure out a solution. 

“I’m going to do everything I can to protect our taxpayers,” declared Taylor.

Temporary Fixes

As of May 14, 2017, officials state that an additional $6.2 million in new repairs is needed. In the meantime, a temporary bypass line has been installed to help waste flow around the sinkhole area and allow inspectors to further investigate the damage of the sewer line. So far, east of the sinkhole (upstream) shows signs of deterioration with gushing leaks and fractures. West of the sinkhole (downstream) has been scheduled to be inspected for damages later on this summer and could possibly drive up the cost of the repair bill and the therefore the need for additional bonds to be sold.

Hopefully, while negotiations and repair are underway regarding who will pay for what, the sinkhole doesn't collapse even further or potentially spread and make the situation even worse. In the meantime, drivers should pay attention to where they are driving as sinkholes are a serious matter. Drivers should be careful of streets with noticeable dips or drainage problems which could be a sign of it's failing infrastructure. In addition, while repairs are being made along 15 Mile Road, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists should all be wary of construction site accidents. By looking out for construction signs, slowing down car speed at construction sites, and by generally traveling through construction sites more cautiously, people may be able to avoid serious injuries that can arise from construction motor vehicle accidents.


Infrastructure damage and repair has been a growing problem in Michigan for many years, let alone the entire nation. In 2013, the ASCE estimated that the cost of updating the infrastructure in America could cost up to $3.6 trillion dollars by the year 2020. Have you or someone you know sustained injuries in an accident stemming from damaged infrastructure? If so, call 844.4MI.FIRM to speak with an attorney at The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm provides free consultations.

Detroit's Street Lighting Overhaul

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In Detroit, Michigan more than 50 light poles became damaged and were in need of replacement every month due to vehicle collisions. This year alone, two fatal speeding car crashes on Detroit’s westside resulted in death and have respectively caused a damaged utility pole and a split pole. Car vs. pole collisions are one of the leading reasons why the Public Lighting Authority (PLA) worked diligently to replace the streetlights in Detroit. In fact, the streetlight project was one they had been working on since they were formed in 2013, following the Auto Industry Crisis during which the city fell on hard times causing many streetlights to be neglected and longer operating. In addition, during this economic downfall, an estimated 40% of the 80,000 streetlights within the city were scrapped for their metal.

In December 2016, Dr. Lorna Thomas told The Detroit Free Press that, "This is a symbolic project. It stands for the resurgence of Detroit," Thomas said. "They said it couldn't be done."

The symbolic lighting project has replaced over 65,000 streetlights since 2014 with LED light bulbs that save on energy while emitting a brighter light. The PLA also took it upon themselves to upgrade 85%-90% of the lighting systems and wiring to deter vandalism. Since the old lights using copper based wiring, scrappers would strip the light poles of the wiring to sell the copper linings for money. The PLA also hoped to put a stop to theft by changing the wiring to hang overhead instead of in the ground under the light poles.  

Another reason that citizens of Detroit have been pleased by these much needed repairs is because they didn't have to pay for them upfront. The repairs and upgrades were paid for in the form of bonds provided by Citicorp, a New York based banking corporation that agreed to have the money paid back over a 30-year-period, through Detroit’s utility tax.

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The PLA was proud to announce that the lighting project had been completed ahead of time and under budget, at the end of 2016. Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians can benefit from better lightning on Detroit roads as a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) attributed 40% of motor vehicle accidents to be the result of intersections that are poorly lit at night. The USDOT says those accidents can be reduced by 35% if streetlights were properly installed at intersections. So, the completion of the project could not come at a better time as the summer weather causes more cars to be on the road late at night. Also, the new and better lighting keeps users of Detroit's new bike share program MoGo, safer if people want to ride bicycles after dark. 

Detroit residents are urged to call 844LIGHT313, if a light in their area needs to be serviced. With Detroit undergoing a revitalization, it is up to the residents to help make sure the city keeps the momentum by making sure streets are lit well enough to potentially prevent crime and car accidents.


The PLA's efforts in redesigning the streetlights could help provide Detroit intersections with much needed lighting to help prevent accidents. In addition to this lifesaver, new streetlights may even deter criminal activity. If you or someone you know have been involved in an auto accident, call the Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. Our firm is highly experienced in dealing with motor vehicle accidents and will help you identify any benefits you may be entitled to under Michigan law.

2017 Michigan Vehicle Registration Increase

Michigan drivers who had a birthday between January to May, might have noticed a slight change in their vehicle registration fee. The increase was due to Governor Snyder signing a bill in November 2015 that is supposed to help raise funds to repair Michigan roadways. The bill didn’t only raise registration fees but gas taxes as well, from 19 cents to 26.3 cents on top of sales tax, and the bill forces hybrid car and electric vehicle owners to pay an additional fee on top of the 20% increase. (Electric vehicle owners have to pay $135 and hybrid vehicle owners pay $47.) The increase in both registration and gas fees is expected to collect $600 million that will be used for road and transportation purposes.

How Are The Funds Being Applied?

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It was discovered that all of the money raised by these increased fees and taxes isn’t going to the state's transportation fund. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy reported that the transportation budget will only have $160 million and not the $460 million dollars that was estimated to be collected this year. This begs the question, “Where are the rest of the funds?" 

Supposedly, the remaining $300 million is instead being spent on Medicaid and school funding. Legislators state that the reason for the switch was because in previous years of tax revenues, money earmarked for these other causes, was scraped to pay the transportation funding costs.

How Do Drivers Feel About The Tax Hike?

The increase in taxes might have come as a disappointment to many drivers who share the same sentiment as Flint resident Sabrina Smith, 24, who said, “They don’t do anything around here, we still have busted roads and we’re still going to have busted roads."

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As a counterpoint, Bob Johnston from Holland, Michigan disagreed with Ms. Smith's sentiment and said, “I absolutely understand the need for it. There’s a huge loss in economic development if we don’t have good roads and infrastructure. We need good roads.”  

So, there seems to be mixed feeling about the tax increase among the citizens of Michigan. However, Michiganders should remember that having an up-to-date vehicle registration is required in Michigan. Any driver who is concerned about how much they need to pay to register their vehicle can find the cost on the Michigan’s Secretary of State registration fee lookup tool. Michigan drivers should also keep in mind that the Trump Administration released a $1 trillion infrastructure plan on June 13, 2017 that might affect the current fees in place.

Though all of the money raised in the tax increase won't go toward infrastructure repair, Michiganders can still expect to see plenty of road rebuilding, bridge repairs, and other construction work this Summer. As such, it is important that motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians be extra cautious when traveling around construction sites as construction motor vehicle accidents are likely to occur. By keeping alert at construction sites, obeying construction traffic signs, and by driving more slowly and extra cautiously, construction site car accidents may be avoided.


Michigan motorists may have to redo going their budgets this year thanks to an increase in registration fees and fuel taxes. Although many drivers will hate the increase, it comes as a trade off to higher auto repair costs due to the crumbling infrastructure of Michigan roads. If you or someone you know have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to damaged roads or damaged infrastructure, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation, at 844.4MI.FIRM.

Dangerous Takata Air Bag Inflators Are Still On The Market

Since early 2015, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog has informed and kept readers updated on the Takata air bag scandal, in which faulty air bag inflators exploded, either randomly or when deployed in car accidents, when the chemical propellant inside degraded. In the latest news, it was discovered that the government overlooked a glaring error while attempting to rid vehicles of defective Takata air bags when they came to an agreement back in January, 2107. Under federal law it is completely legal for junkyards to sell previously or currently recalled and other wrecked vehicle parts to repair shops that later can be placed into other cars. The transaction is easy to do since there isn't a government agency that currently tracks the purchases, nor a state that has laws against the reuse of recalled vehicle parts. This means that faulty Takata air bags have been sold from junkyards and repurposed in cars that people are currently driving.

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How To Avoid Buying A Faulty Car

A reused faulty air bag is the reason why Karen Dorado suffered from a punctured trachea, neck injuries, and damaged vocal cords after getting in a minor car crash on March 3, 2017. Dorado’s father bought her a Honda Accord so that she would have reliable transportation to get her back and forth to work and was unaware, at the time, of the car’s history. This history includes a car accident in Phoenix, Arizona in 2015 that declared the vehicle to be totaled and was later salvaged, repaired, and sold in Las Vegas on March 2016. The inflator however, was traced to a 2001 Accord that had been under recall, but had yet to be serviced and must have been stolen or replaced by a junkyard that sold it to the shop that repaired Dorado’s Honda Accord. 

Dorado is only one of almost 200 people injured or killed by the faulty Takata inflators. To avoid getting into car accidents in tricky situations such as Dorado's it is recommended that anyone who is looking to purchase a vehicle first check it's complete purchase and repair history. Auto history trackers like Carfax or AutoCheck are resourceful sites that research the history of used vehicles so that potential buyers will have an idea of any problems they could possibly be inheriting by purchasing a used vehicle.

Takata's Air Bag Buy Back Program

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Takata now has a program in place that will buy up any of their air bags to take them out of circulation. In fact, Takata has already purchased around 60,000 of them. However, this still doesn’t prevent future buyers of used or salvaged cars from potential danger even when searching the car's VIN number on websites like the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is only allowed to monitor reported vehicles and not car parts, whether they are reported or not. An NHTSA spokeswoman admitted as much to the L.A. Times stating that, “The federal government has no authority over used car sales and cannot stop air bags from being resold.”

Acting director of the Center for Auto Safety Michael Brooks, said,

“People should be suspicious of cars with salvage titles because there is no way of knowing where the parts came from or the quality of the repair work. Although some are safe, stolen or counterfeit parts can be used.”

Update On The Takata Air Bag Scandal

On January 13, 2017 Federal Detroit prosecutors announced that a settlement was reached with Takata over their defective air bag inflators that would cause debris to explode upon impact. The settlement agreement includes Takata pleading guilty to wire fraud, paying $1 billion in criminal penalties, and the indictment of 3 former Takata executives, Shinichi Tanaka, 59; Hideo Nakajima, 65; and Tsuneo Chikaraishi, 61. Roughly $125 million of the fine is going to go to those who were injured by the air bag - if they haven't received a separate settlement - while $850 million will go to automakers who have incurred debt over replacement costs for the air bags. Takata was also ordered to recall the almost 100 million air bags, in phases, which should be completed by the end of 2019.

Drivers are encouraged to make sure their vehicle has been recently serviced in order to prevent serious injuries and death resulting from the Takata air bag inflators. Future car buyers who may be purchasing a used car or salvaging a current one should be vigilant in making sure that the car parts are purchased from a state approved auto shop. At the very least, any one in the used car buying market should should look up the history of their car's parts.


Although, Takata is now compensating families for their loss, it comes a little too late for those who have lost a loved one due to their negligence. Now, the horror continues through sales of salvaged parts that is completely legal under federal law. If you or someone you know was injured due to faulty air bags or any other recall defect, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. today. We will work hard to earn you any compensation you may be entitled to.

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.

2017 Is A Good Year For Michigan Automakers

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There’s some good news for Michigan’s economy and automakers coming in 2017. George Fulton, Director of research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, and research professor and Director of the Center for Labor Market Research at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and Economy, recently forecasted Michigan’s economic and fiscal activity for 2017. He says that major Detroit car manufacturers such as GM, Chrysler, and Ford’s national sales will go up from last years 44.3% to 44.9% in 2017.

This is good news for Michigan’s economy as these three car companies are some of the biggest companies in Detroit, Michigan and in the country. The growth of their sales nationally will help the state of Michigan recover from its economic slump quicker. With this growth may come upwards of 568,900 jobs just for citizens of Michigan. This is almost 66% of the 858,400 jobs that Michiganders lost in the 2000 recession. Put in other terms, this means that the unemployment rate in Michigan will drop from its current 5.3% to 4.6% in 2017.

Michigan State Treasurer, Nick Khouri, indicates that Michigan’s economy is already improving by reporting that Michigan’s revenue for the 2015 fiscal year has improved by almost $227 million since January. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration estimates that together, the general fund and the School Aid Fund revenue will be up by $175 million in 2017. The Senate Fiscal Agency however forecasts that the combined revenues will be up by $189.4 million. Regardless of who’s estimate turns out to be correct, the positive numbers look good for Michigan.

Residents of Michigan should keep in mind however that an improving economy which leads to an increase in car purchases means an increase in car accidents. The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC can help victims of car accidents get their medical bills paid, deal with car insurance issues, and get them compensation for pain and suffering as allowed under Michigan law. Allowing our accident attorneys  to help you identify and recover your medical and insurance benefits may be the best decision you make on your road to healing. Speak to our experienced attorneys today. Call us at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Source: Detroit Free Press