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Why the Government Is Investigating the Tesla Autopilot Feature

Posted On August 1, 2016 In Personal Injury

Is Tesla's Autopilot safe?Two recent accidents involving the Tesla Autopilot feature have federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) worried. NHTSA is the federal agency responsible for regulating safety standards within the auto industry.

Earlier this year, a Tesla Model S was involved in a fatal car accident. A large semi-truck took a left turn in front of the Tesla Model S. Instead of braking, the Tesla Model S drove underneath the semi-truck’s trailer, sheering the small passenger vehicle in half.

An internal investigation carried out by Tesla confirmed Autopilot was engaged at the time of the accident. Autopilot is a feature on some Tesla vehicles that that uses cameras, GPS and software to automatically steer and brake for drivers. Tesla recently claimed on its blog that the Autopilot feature was unable to differentiate the white side of the semi-truck against a brightly lit sky.

Another accident involving Autopilot has caught the attention of NHTSA. In the second crash, a Tesla Model X collided with a post along the side of a highway. An accident report suggests Autopilot warned the driver to place his hands on the steering wheel. According to Tesla, these warnings went unheeded. The driver has argued that there was no warning he was in danger. He also claims that he speaks Mandarin, and that Autopilot issues warnings in English.

NHTSA’s investigation into Autopilot is significant for several reasons. This is the first time NHTSA has investigated a fatal accident involving self-driving technology. In addition, a letter sent by NHTSA to Tesla indicates its investigation is focusing heavily on automatic emergency braking systems. Last year, NHTSA issued a press release detailing how ten major automakers plan to include automatic emergency braking systems on their vehicles within the next few years. Automatic emergency braking may have failed during the fatal Tesla Model S crash, and the safety of this technology is now being questioned. If this technology is not currently installed on your vehicle, it may be within the next several years.

How to Stay Informed on Auto Recall and Safety News

Even if you don’t own a Tesla vehicle, it is still extremely important to stay well-informed on auto recall and safety news. In some cases, NHTSA investigations lead to recalls. Automakers must inform consumers of recalls. However, there are dozens of reasons you might miss recall announcements (such as moving or listing the wrong address).

NHTSA operates www.safercar.gov, which lists recent information on recalls. To check for recalls, type your vehicle identification number into the website’s search engine.

The Texas personal injury attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC will help people who have suffered injuries caused by defective auto parts.

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