The National Transportation Safety Board announced it will investigate a crash involving a Tesla Model S and a fire truck that occurred on a Los Angeles-area freeway January 22. In the accident, the Model S reportedly rear-ended a fire truck that was parked in an emergency lane and was responding to an accident.
The Model S suffered major front-end damage, but fortunately no one was injured in the accident. The driver of the Model S said the vehicle’s autopilot function was engaged at the time, but investigating agencies have not definitively stated if that was true.
Problems with vehicle recognition systems?
Previous crashes involving Tesla’s autopilot function have allowed the computer inside the vehicle to offer investigators important data. In the most high-profile example of a previous accident involving a Tesla car on autopilot, there were some surprising reports that indicated the Autopilot system did not identify the truck that was crossing the road immediately in front of it. In fact, it had not really been designed to do so.
This has led some to question whether the fire truck provides another example of a situation in which the Model S autopilot system has not been programmed to recognize a vehicle in its path.
Drivers in Model S vehicles also still maintain some liability when it comes to accidents. The autopilot feature being turned on is not a defense that can help a driver avoid liability, especially if there is evidence the driver was distracted or too reliant on the autopilot system.
Autopilot technology continues to evolve and proliferate, but there are still plenty of safety issues manufacturers are working out. If you need sound legal advice after a crash, speak with an experienced Bradenton auto accident attorney at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh.