Tesla Under Federal Investigation Following Autopilot Crash in Washington

Tesla recently recalled over 2 million cars in the U.S. following a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) prompted by a series of crashes involving Tesla cars using the Autopilot feature. In response, Tesla released a software update in December for cars equipped with the system, adding more controls and alerts that would “encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility” while using Autosteer, a component of Autopilot. Despite this, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation said Tesla’s Autopilot system may still be inadequate. The agency identified at least 13 fatal crashes and 32 crashes resulting in injuries where Tesla drivers misused the system, according to a report released Thursday by the agency.

Federal auto safety regulators opened another investigation into Tesla’s recall of its Autopilot system last year, saying the company may not have done enough to keep drivers who use the technology focused on the road. The NHTSA announced on Friday, April 26, that they are opening an investigation into the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot feature, less than a week after a Tesla driver believed to be using it allegedly struck and killed a motorcyclist in Monroe, Washington. Jeffrey Nissen, 28, of Stanwood was on his way home from work on Highway 522 when the Tesla Model S struck his blue 2003 Yamaha R6, Nissen’s fiancée Janae Hutchinson said Thursday. Washington State Patrol spokesperson Chris Loftis said the agency is still investigating whether the Tesla driver was using Autopilot — a combination of cruise control and Autosteer intended to maintain the car’s set speed while keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and in its driving lane. The crash was among a rising number of collisions in Washington involving cars equipped with the technology, mostly Teslas.

Are Totally Driverless Cars Legal?

Autonomous driving, or the operation of vehicles with no human involvement, is currently only legal for testing in Washington state, and only three companies — NVIDIA Corporation, Waymo, and Zoox — have certified with the state’s licensing department to do so, said Loftis, a Washington State Patrol spokesperson. This is likely due to safety issues with totally autonomous vehicles.

Have You Been a Victim of a Washington D.C. Car Accident?

If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed as a result of another driver’s sudden medical emergency that resulted in a Washington D.C. car accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen to consult with an experienced attorney. The attorneys at our firm are ready to use their knowledge and compassion to help handle complex cases involving car accidents. Expenses and injuries sustained in an accident can quickly become overwhelming, and having an experienced roster of accident attorneys by your side can make a world of difference in the compensation you receive. Our dedicated team of lawyers helps clients better understand their rights and recover damages for their injuries and losses. Contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at 1-800-654-1949.

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