Autopilot Function Can Pose a Deadly Threat to Washington D.C. Drivers

In conjunction with safety advocates, national news reports have continually reported the dangers associated with vehicles operating on Autopilot. However, the Washington D.C. Center for Auto Safety has amped up its efforts to address the concerning number of accidents involving self-driving vehicles. These accidents are occurring throughout the country and have been a cause of concern for Washington, D.C. drivers.

Recently, the New York Times highlighted a Tesla autopilot crash that took the life of a 22-year-old college student. In that case, a Florida finance executive was operating his Tesla on “Autopilot” mode when he bent down to look for his cell phone. Tesla claims that the Autopilot system can steer, brake, and accelerate a car using advanced sensors and other technology. On the night of the accident, the 22-year-old was on a date with a man driving his mother’s SUV. The driver pulled over on the shoulder, and as the woman was exiting the vehicle, the Tesla slammed into the SUV. It is unclear whether the vehicle increased its speed or if the driver raised the speed. However, evidence suggests that the Tesla driver slammed on the brakes about a second before the collision. The woman’s estate filed a lawsuit against Tesla, claiming that their vehicles are “unsafe and defective.” The estate settled the claim for an undisclosed amount with the Tesla driver.

Similar to other accidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot function, it does not appear that the system did much to ensure that the driver was paying attention to his surroundings. While Tesla reports that the company has recently implemented an in-car camera system to detect and monitor drivers, it is unclear how effective the technology is while the vehicle is dark. In contrast, other companies use different technology to monitor drivers. With those systems, drivers who look away for more than two seconds will receive a warning that alerts them to look ahead. If a driver does not comply, the self-driving technology will shut off and alert the driver to take control of the vehicle.

Are Teslas Safe?

Despite Elon Musk’s insistence that Teslas and other self-driving cars are safer than humans, the technology continuously proves otherwise. As such, those who operate a self-driving car or are on the road with self-driving cars must take steps to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Have You Been Involved in a Washington D.C. Car Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died in a Washington D.C. car accident, contact the accidents lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen. The attorneys at our office have a comprehensive understanding of complex personal injury laws that affect our clients. We have successfully represented clients in claims involving Washington D.C. auto accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, product liability, premises liability, and wrongful death. Our lawyers consistently secure favorable results for our clients and recover the compensation that they deserve. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with an attorney on our team today.


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