Sadly, it seems that we regularly hear news of autopilot automatic cars being involved in auto accidents, many of which seem to result in wrongful death if negligence was involved. As a result, Tesla – one of the companies that makes and tests these cars on our roads – is now being sued in connection with a Model 3 driver who died in a crash with a truck driver while his car was on Autopilot. In fact, this latest victim is reportedly the fourth person known to die while using Autopilot.
Ironically, the accident was reminiscent of an almost identical crash involving yet another driver who had previously collided with a truck while relying on Autopilot in his Tesla Model S, as well as others involving the Model X. It is arguably easy to understand why a number of safety advocates are concerned that these Autopilot-based cars are simply not ready for the road. While Tesla reminds drivers that they need to supervise Autopilot, it also misleadingly markets its Autopilot package as “full self-driving.”
Both cars actively went under the trucks’ trailers and failed to come to a stop, leading to one driver’s death, while the other was reportedly uninjured. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted investigations into the accidents, they closed them without issuing a recall. However, now the National Transportation Safety Board is opening its own investigation into these deaths.
The Board has already released statements indicating that Autopilot was in fact engaged during these accidents, leading, of course, to families alleging that the wrongful death of their loved one was due to a defective autopilot system, and that Tesla is to blame. It also indicated that the vehicle failed to detect the driver’s hands on the steering while before the crash and at the time of impact. In addition, the vehicle was reportedly found to be traveling at 68 mph in a 55 mph zone, which inevitably brings into question why the autopilot system engaged in speeding. According to reports, Autopilot is supposed to provide drivers with a warning to apply pressure to the wheel at all times.
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These tragic accidents are too eerily similar to simply involve driver error. Are these autopilot systems simply the equivalent of defective products? There is, unfortunately, no evidence to date that Tesla and other companies manufacturing these systems are doing anything to address these issues.
If you or a loved one has suffered in an auto accident here in South Carolina, contact our accident and wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation to find out how we can help. We are here to ensure that justice is done for you and your family.
Dan Pruitt is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from University of Georgia, and has been practicing law for 25 years. Dan Pruitt believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.