According to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), design limitations in the Tesla Model S autopilot system played a significant role in the first known fatal accident involving a vehicle operating under automated control on the highway.
The board review indicates the direct cause of the accident was the inattentive driver’s reliance on the technology, along with a truck driver who made a left turn in front of the vehicle. However, the NTSB also recommended to all automakers working on automated vehicles to implement more safeguards that keep drivers engaged on the operation of the vehicle. It also recommended limiting the use of the vehicles’ automated systems solely to the conditions for which they were designed.
The 40-year-old driver of the Tesla was traveling on a divided highway near Gainesville. He was using the automated driving system at the time of the accident. Tesla told owners of the vehicle that the automated systems should be used only on limited access highways, but the company did not implement protections against the use of these features on other types of roads. Tesla has still not put such protections in place on its vehicles.
In the crash, Tesla’s system worked as designed. However, the way it was designed was only meant for a limited range of environments.
Liability with autopilot an issue of the future
As self-driving car technology continues to evolve, liability involving these vehicles will become of greater importance for injury victims and their families. At what point does the driver take responsibility for failing to safely operate a vehicle? And, what responsibilities does the manufacturer assume to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers?
To learn more about how you should proceed after an auto accident, contact a dedicated Florida personal injury lawyer with Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.