Many car enthusiasts and tech gurus alike have been intrigued with some of the latest offerings with respect to self-driving vehicles. Several months ago, Tesla released its Autopilot feature which, seemingly overnight, took its Model S to the “head of the line” with respect to driver assistance programs and active safety. All of a sudden, Model S owners were able to witness with their own eyes the vehicle speed up or slow down when driving in traffic, self-park and self-steer (which is probably the most controversial feature of them all).
Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking a closer look at the recent fatality that reportedly occurred in Tesla’s Model S while its Autopilot feature was in use. According to Tesla, the collision occurred when a big rig drove across the highway ahead of the Model S. Sadly, neither the Autopilot nor the driver behind the wheel of the automobile reacted in time to engage the vehicle’s brakes.
Tesla’s Autopilot: The Good, Bad and the Ugly
The tragic death noted above occurred many months ago and the driver, who was referred to as a “friend of Tesla,” died as a result of the injuries sustained during the crash that took place in Williston, Florida. The police reports indicated that the driver’s Model S went underneath the trailer of the big rig that had made a left-hand turn in front of the vehicle. The vehicle’s roof was torn off, yet it kept going and eventually left the road, hit a fence, crossed a field, passed through another fence and hit a utility pole that was located approximately 100 feet from the roadway.
Despite this unfortunate accident, Tesla executives have noted that vehicle owners have traveled well over 100 million miles using the Autopilot feature. Still, while the NHTSA’s investigation into the recent accident will undoubtedly shine an even brighter light on the feature, the initiation of an investigation does not necessarily mean that Tesla and/or its Autopilot feature will be deemed to be at fault.
When the feature was initially released in beta, many owners noted some of the dangerous incidents they experienced when engaging the feature. At that time, Elon Musk (Tesla’s chief executive), stated that they were being “especially cautious at this early stage, so [they advised] drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case.” Other automakers, like Mercedes, Audi and Volvo, have a similar feature (but theirs doesn’t change lanes).
Tesla has been clear from the start that drivers are responsible for the automobile at all times and accordingly, they should remain an active part of the driving process — even when the Autopilot feature is in use.
While many of these new and improved hi-tech features can be helpful to drivers, it is always important to keep safety a top priority. That said, if you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident, do not hesitate to reach out to the personal injury attorneys at Levine Law, a Denver accident law firm, right away. Let us help you preserve your legal rights and obtain the just compensation to which you may be entitled.