Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated a vehicular accident involving a Tesla Model S. The Tesla vehicle reportedly crashed into the back of a fire truck in California. The driver of the vehicle alleges that their Tesla Model S was on Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system. Thankfully, no one was injured in the accident. The National Traffic Safety Board was not quick to blame the autopilot but instead focused on investigating all factors that could have contributed to the accident. This is not the first accident that has occurred with semi-self driving or self-driving Tesla cars. A Florida resident did lose his/her life in an accident while using the autopilot system.
According to Tesla, the autopilot on its vehicles should only be used during certain circumstances and only when it is safe to do so. In addition, the autopilot usually warns the driver of misuse and will shut off if the driver releases the steering wheel. When Tesla was investigated for the death of the Florida driver, the NTSB did not find evidence to suggest the autopilot system was to blame for the fatality. Instead, the NTSB concluded that it was driver error that caused the accident. Some have suggested that drivers utilizing the autopilot system may be slightly unware of its limitations. For example, it is suspected that drivers have been unaware of whether or not the autopilot has been engaged, whether the autopilot shut off without their knowledge, and that drivers misuse the autopilot by believing they no longer have to be aware of their surroundings. The Tesla autopilot may also be hard for some people to figure out. Drivers of Tesla vehicles are encouraged to learn how to turn on the autopilot, understand its limitations, and remember what driving behavior they should use in order to continue staying safe while in autopilot.
The NTSB only investigates to conclude whether there was a safety defect that caused an accident. They are not responsible for figuring out the root cause of the accident nor can they place liability on any driver. Instead, consider hiring an attorney to help you prove liability in a case. The car accident attorneys at Bohn & Fletcher are prepared to help guide you through the complicated process of proving liability in a car accident. Call us today.