Law

Who is to Blame for a Tesla Autopilot Crash?

Technologies like autonomous driving and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have become the next frontier in the human-persistent quest for efficiency. The semi-autonomous driving technology, however, like any new venture, has been laden with risk. Tesla, for example, has been at the front of semi-autonomous innovation, but its cars have been under fire for causing several significant accidents and even a few deaths.

“When you purchase an item, there are instructions attached to it. Failure to follow the user manual can make the user liable for damage or injury,” says personal injury lawyer Bill Umansky. Tesla using ‘Autopilot’ to describe its technology can be deceptive. If the drivers fail to follow Tesla Autopilot instructions, they will share responsibility.

How Tesla Autopilot Works

Radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors assist the two significant features of Tesla Autopilot: Autosteer with Traffic-Aware Cruise Control. Adaptive cruise control, also known as traffic-aware cruise control, keeps a safe gap between the car and the vehicles in front. This technology typically employs cameras with artificial intelligence algorithms to identify and estimate the distances between nearby objects such as cars, walkers, and bicyclists.

Autosteer uses cameras to detect designated lines on the road to maintain the vehicle in its designated lane. Tesla has been providing full self-driving options like auto park and auto lane change in addition to its Autopilot capabilities. Since its first launch, Tesla has continuously cautioned users that the Autopilot system and other self-driving capabilities require active driver monitoring; these features do not make the car autonomous.

Factors Contributing to Tesla Autopilot Crash

Tesla Autopilot is a level 2 system. This means that the principal controller of the car should be a human driver. Even though Tesla requires drivers to stay aware constantly when using the Autopilot capabilities, some drivers treat the Autopilot technology as if Tesla is autonomous. They drive with little or no human supervision or input resulting in many people paying little or no attention to the road. The gap between the company instructions and driver behavior is a contributing cause of collisions.

Many drivers are also under the influence of alcohol while driving; this impairs their driving abilities leading to accidents. Tesla’s choice of sensor systems is also a significant contributor to vehicle accidents. Tesla has continuously avoided using lidar, a Technology that allows driverless vehicles to sense their surroundings.

Tesla Autopilot is vulnerable to potential failures due to adverse lighting conditions, like darkness and glare, because it relies on cameras. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the events like this occur after dark when flashing oncoming car lights are present. But lidar, on the other hand, can see in the dark and can function in any lighting condition.

Tesla Autopilot Can Be a Lifesaver

Tesla Autopilot has been under fire in recent years. However, it can avert accidents, injuries, and deaths. The following sequence of events demonstrates how beneficial the system can be:

Drunk Tesla Driver Who Fell Asleep

The following narration is one of those situations in which autopilot comes to the rescue. While driving his Model S in Norway’s eastern area, a drunk 24-year-old Tesla owner fell asleep. The result could have been disastrous; fortunately for the driver and others on the road, the vehicle autopilot system was on before the driver passed out, enabling the car to maintain the lane without causing traffic issues.

The car driver-assist system safely put the vehicle on halt when there was a sensitivity that its driver was unresponsive. After the event, there was no record of any injury or death; everyone was safe.

In a Moving Tesla, a Woman Gave Birth

Yiran Sherry and Keating Sherry from Pennsylvania also benefited from the autopilot system. After a tense ride to the hospital, in which their child, Maeve Lily, was born in the passenger seat of their Tesla Model 3, the couple has commended Tesla Autopilot.

Yiran started having contractions one morning, and the husband Keating put her and their son in a Tesla. Yiran’s water broke just as she got into the car, so both parents knew they needed to get to the hospital fast. Unfortunately, they got stuck in rush-hour traffic.

Keating decided to activate the autopilot while maintaining one hand on the wheel to assist his wife while leaving the car moving. While the autopilot handled some driving tasks, the husband did his best to help his wife in labor. The drive to the hospital took barely 20 minutes, but before they arrived at the hospital, the wife gave birth in the front seat of the Tesla.

Who is Liable for a Semi-Autonomous Crash?

It is reckless for drivers not to keep their eyes on the road or their hands on the steering wheel when driving. Even if the autonomous driving technology is on, the driver remains responsible for any collision in a Tesla autopilot accident if he fails to keep his eyes on the road while driving. Though the Tesla company has its share of the blame, using the term “autopilot” could mislead people to believe the car is more capable than it is, a misconception that can lead to fatal results.

Tesla has the proper disclaimers in place, indicating that Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Technology is for a completely-alert driver whose hands are on the wheel and is ready to take control. The point is that whether or not the Autopilot technology is in use, the driver is still responsible for making driving decisions like stopping the car when he sees potential danger.

Final Thought

People mistake Tesla autopilot for a self-driving or autonomous car, while in reality, all Teslas offer is an enhanced driver aid system to make driving less stressful. As a result, people exaggerate the vehicle’s capabilities; semi-autonomous systems, like autopilot, are not a substitute for human drivers. Regardless of the Autopilot vehicle capabilities, all motorists should pay more attention to the road.

Furthermore, drivers should avoid driving while intoxicated because this hampers their driving judgment. Also, avoiding distractions and reckless driving will help prevent Tesla autopilot collisions.

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