Tesla accident sparks investigation into autopilot safety

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2019 | Car Accidents |

Whether you like it or not, it is very likely that you will be sharing the road with self-driving and autopiloted vehicles in the near future. Auto manufacturers, such as Tesla, are working on perfecting their autopilot systems and hoping to be the leader in the self-driving and autopilot vehicle market. However, a recent accident involving a Tesla vehicle may cause you to question the safety and effectiveness of autopilot systems. 

Two federal organizations are launching an investigation into Tesla and certain safety features after a recent Florida accident. This accident resulted in the death of a driver after he drove his Tesla under a semitrailer that was crossing the road. Authorities are still looking into what happened, but concerns over whether the autopilot system played a role launched a significant investigation.

Is autopilot to blame? 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sending a team to Florida to investigate this specific incident. The accident is very similar to a fatal accident that occurred in 2016. The primary aspect the investigators will likely be looking into is whether the driver had autopilot system engaged at the time of the crash, but they will account for all factors that played a role in the collision.

In this accident, the driver collided with the driver’s side of a tractor-trailer that was turning left onto a divided highway. The collision sheared the roof of the car off, and the car actually traveled under the truck. The circumstances of the 2016 accident are very similar. There is the possibility that an issue with the autopilot system resulted in a failure to engage the brakes or alert the driver to brake.

What happens next?

Autopilot technology has come a long way, but there are still serious limitations. In fact, Tesla encouraged owners of vehicles with autopilot capabilities to only use the technology in certain circumstances and on certain types of roads, such as on the interstate. According to the automaker, owners are supposed to treat the autopilot system and automatic braking systems as a type of driver-assistance tool.

Automakers are responsible for ensuring that the systems they put in their vehicles are safe and that they include clear instructions on how to use them properly. This investigation may reveal that there are problems with the autopilot system that could place motorists at risk for an accident. Any time a driver suffers because of a dangerous vehicle or car part, it may be grounds to move forward with a civil claim.


attorneys Brad Culpepper and Brett J. Kurland