Friday, January 23, 2015

The Evolution of Automotive Technology Offers Safety Innovations for Drivers, But the Law Has to Catch Up

The month of January brings with it a couple of major trade shows for the automotive industry, including the North American International Auto Show in Detroit which comes to a close this weekend. The developments that have peaked the most interest for drivers are related to the intersection of technology and safety. Automobile safety leading up to 2015 has largely depended on drivers obeying the rules of the road and vehicle manufacturers facilitating their ability to do so by ensuring that the cars they make are free of any defects. Recently, California roads became a testing ground for driverless vehicles when the DMV issued manufacturer permits for these cars, most of which were given to Google.

When the State of California recently missed a deadline to approve safety regulations for driverless cars, it was a reflection of the fact that safety standards for emerging technology have not even been developed. California regulators decided to let the deadline pass because they believed that there was no point in trying to determine the safety of autonomous vehicles when there are no guidelines for measuring what that would entail.

New automotive technology is bringing some of the equipment used by autonomous cars to old-fashioned driver-operated vehicles. Some of these were seen at the Silicone Valley International Auto Show this month, and include cameras, sensors and detectors that aim to reduce road accidents. While these advancements aim to counter the effects of human error, some of them can actually do the work of preventing accidents.

Driverless cars must obey the same rules of the road as a vehicle operated by a driver. But lawmakers must decide on the other ways their safety will be assessed, directly related to the computer operating system that’s running the car – how dependable is that system and how quickly can it provide control to a human driver if need be.

Many drivers may be wondering how these advancements in safety might affect their insurance rates – automobile insurance carriers don’t think a big reduction in premiums is coming anytime soon. This is in part because, even though many accidents could be prevented by a vehicle equipped with extra safety provisions, if an accident does occur, the repair bill for those cars may be much higher.

Friday, January 16, 2015

California Notary Acknowledgement Form Amendment Will Affect Construction and Real Estate Documents

In 2014, the Governor of California signed into law a small but significant change to the notary acknowledgment form, a document which must be attached to, among other things, certain real property related filings with the County Clerk.

The amendment to section 1189 of the Civil Code was known as Senate Bill 1050 , in Chapter 197 of the 2014 Statutes.  According to the legislation, the certificate signed by a notary must explicitly state, in a separate enclosed box, that the notary is a witness ONLY to the identity of the document’s signor, and not to any information contained within the document. The law also requires the change to be reflected in a new Notary Acknowledgement Form. Specifically, the additional wording is:

“A notary public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document.”

The change became effective on January 1, 2015.  Therefore any document signed in front of a notary after that date must have the new Acknowledgement attached. Anything notarized in 2014 with the previous form will not be rejected by a County Clerk.

A notary public must be a witness to several important documents that are pertinent to the construction and real estate industries, such as: Release of Claim of Mechanics Lien, Lis Pendens and Deeds.