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New Mexico Legal Issues Blog

Self-driving commercial vehicles are coming. Will they be safe?

Commercial trucks and buses have been chronic dangers on our nation's roads. Commercial carriers and motor coach companies have often been found to cut corners on safety, sometimes leading to tragic results. They may delay required maintenance, cut back on training, employ dangerous drivers and even encourage certain rules violations -- all in the name of improving the bottom line.

Considering all the accidents commercial vehicles have caused, it's tempting to think that self-driving vehicles could be a solution. Autonomous vehicles would take advantage of advanced sensors and safety technology to drive more safely. They would never get drunk or distracted or bored or sleepy. They would never break the law, as long as it was properly programmed. If autonomous vehicles would cut down on serious and deadly traffic accidents, it could be a dream come true.

BMW recalls over 1 million cars and SUVs due to engine fire risk

The German automaker BMW has announced a recall of some 1.4 million cars and SUVs, citing a risk of engine fire even when the vehicle is not in use. A spokesperson said the risk is low, but recommended parking the vehicles outside until repairs are made. Repairs are expected to be available beginning Dec. 18.

There are two separate recalls involved, and some vehicles may be affected by both.

When and where do concussions occur?

It's never just a bump on the head. As medical experts continue to research, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that a concussion isn't a momentary injury. The effects are different on each individual. Sometimes it is over quickly, but others experience side effects for months and even years later. The more serious the brain injury, the harder the recovery will be.

Your recourse in the face of a civil rights violation

It's Saturday afternoon. After a stressful week at work, you decide to treat yourself to a little shopping spree. You head out to the local mall and step into one of your favorite boutiques. However, you quickly notice that something is off. The shopkeeper seems to be eyeing you suspiciously, closely monitoring your every move as she follows you around the store. As you leave, she instructs the security guard to have you searched.

You may be a victim of the phenomenon known as "shopping while black"--a type of consumer racial profiling where one is denied service or otherwise treated poorly in a store because one is black. Racial profiling is a type of racial discrimination, which is a violation of your civil rights.

Mercedes-Benz vehicles recalled for airbag deployment problem

Daimler Chrysler has recalled 495,000 Mercedes-Benz cars and SUVs in the U.S. and more abroad. The problem is with the airbags, which can go off unexpectedly.

Insufficient grounding of the steering components, along with a broken clock spring, can result in an unexpected deployment of the driver's side front airbag when there is an electrostatic discharge, the company told Reuters.

AAA: 'Explosion' of dashboard technology proves very distracting

A new study by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety raises serious questions about all the new "infotainment" technology automakers are packing into new vehicles. The study found that, even where the in-vehicle technology was less distracting than a cellphone app, it caused more distraction overall because it was used more.

It's getting worse, according to the University of Utah professor who performed the study for AAA. He said that prior studies have indicated the problem, but that an "explosion of technology" may be putting people at serious risk.

12 women accuse jailed New Mexico psychiatrist of sexual abuse

In July, a New Mexico psychiatrist was arrested on six counts of criminal sexual penetration as well as five counts of criminal sexual conduct. The sexual abuse occurred during "visits to his office during office hours that were part of supposed treatment," according to a Farmington police detective. The doctor was denied bond and is awaiting trial.

This month, according to the Courthouse News Service, that same psychiatrist has been sued by twelve women who claim he coerced them into discussing their sex lives and performing sexual acts on him. He allegedly told them it was a part of therapy.

Study: Off-road vehicle use may expose riders to asbestos

A recent meta-analysis of 15 prior studies and reports found that off-road vehicle (ORV) use is associated with asbestos exposure. That means there is a risk that riders could develop mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and other diseases.

The problem is that ORVs kick up a lot of dust, and asbestos has been found to occur naturally in the Appalachian mountain range and ranges throughout the West and Southwest.

Bicyclists and motorists: the battle for road space

Most road lanes were designed for one car to navigate comfortably. Increasingly, we see roads with bike lanes, but these are by no means universal. Many bikes and motor vehicles are forced to share spaces that do not offer either a comfortable amount of space to navigate.

Too many riders are inadvertently sideswiped by passing vehicles or pushed so far towards the curb that they run the risk of hitting debris, potholes or stationary parked cars. How can you position yourself to prevent injury while biking New Mexico's roads?

Crime rates up for second year but still near historic lows

According to the FBI's most recent "Crime in the United States" report, violent crime rose noticeably in Albuquerque between 2015 and 2016, but only modestly nationwide. Experts say the national rise in violent crime is driven by spikes in a few cities and the overall rate remains near historically low levels. The FBI points out that this is the first time in a decade that the violent crime rate has risen in two consecutive years.

It's important for the public to understand the context of these increases because people often have false beliefs about the prevalence of crime. The reality is that all the forms of violent crime measured by the FBI are near historic lows. When the public concludes the nation is in the midst of a crime wave, it is often tempting to restrict civil rights as a result.