NHTSA Opens Formal Investigation Following Tesla Autopilot Crash

Tesla has been leading the autonomous car industry, and while these cars are an alluring glimpse into the future, they also pose many dangers to road users. These dangers primarily stem from a driver’s overreliance on the vehicle’s technological ability to operate the car safely. A 2018 Florida Tesla autopilot accident is a prime example of the company’s claims and user overreliance.

In that case, a Florida driver was traveling in his Tesla in Autopilot mode when he bent down to look for his phone. Neither the driver nor the vehicle’s technology realized the road was ending. The vehicle flew through a stop sign and red light and slammed into a parked Chevrolet. The tragic accident took the life of a 22-year-college student. The woman’s estate filed a lawsuit against the company, arguing that the vehicles are “defective and unsafe.” In addition, the estate settled a lawsuit against the Tesla driver. This incident was just one of several fatal accidents involving Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot mode.

The company explains that Autopilot mode is a system that allows the vehicle to accelerate, brake, and steer without a driver. While the company publicly touts their advanced technology or “driverless cars,” their website states that Autopilot mode is designed to “assist” the driver with “burdensome parts” of driving. Further, the website now states that “current” Autopilot features require “active” driver supervision. Despite its name, the vehicles are not autonomous, and the vehicle’s manuals warn operators not to use the function on city streets.

Following the rising number of Autopilot accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a formal investigation into the technology. The NHTSA stated that they know of 11 accidents involving Teslas that slammed into emergency vehicles parked on roadways in the past three years.

Additionally, safety advocates and officials explain that the company’s Autopilot claims encourage a false sense of reliance on the vehicle. However, the technology does not include sufficient safeguards to ensure that drivers pay attention to their surroundings and retake control to avoid an accident. Moreover, safety experts are looking into other potential flaws that increase the likelihood of an accident. In doing so, regulators discovered that the technology failed to recognize stationary objects and cars in some instances. Other automakers use infrared cameras to track the operators’ eyes, and if the driver looks away for more than two seconds, the car warns them to look ahead.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered severe injuries in a Florida car accident with an autonomous car or another vehicle, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The Miami injury attorneys on our team have nearly 100 years of combined legal experience representing injury victims and their families. We provide representation in Florida accident cases involving negligent drivers, defective or unsafe products, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. We aim to secure maximum compensation for our clients in every case we handle. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an injury attorney on our team.

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