Florida. Last year, a Tesla vehicle on “Autopilot” crashed into a tractor trailer in Florida, becoming the first autonomous car accident death on record. The collision led to many questions about the safety of autonomous vehicle technology. Personal injury lawyers in Florida and across the country raised the question of who was responsible for the accident. According to Wired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finally published its findings about Tesla’s “Autopilot’s” role in the Florida accident. The administration found no safety defect in Tesla’s “Autopilot” noting that individuals who used Tesla’s autonomous functions crashed 40 percent less often than those who drove without using the feature.
Autonomous vehicles have been touted by some as the best way to reduce the 30,000 traffic deaths we see in the U.S. each year. While the autonomous systems currently being tested have flaws, many claim that they are already making roads safer and are saving lives in the process. Car accident lawyers like the attorneys at Andress | Inzina, LLC find that most accidents can be attributed to human error.
Yet, some critics of autonomous vehicles argue that the technology hasn’t been properly tested. To Tesla’s credit, the company warned users that the “Autopilot” feature was not meant to substitute for a human driver. Drivers were warned to keep their attention on the road. Tesla itself admits that its autonomous features are not sufficiently advanced to handle a situation in which a truck cuts in front of a vehicle, as was the case in the Florida accident. Tesla looked into the accident and implemented changes to its “Autopilot” feature to make it safer.
The reality is that autonomous systems currently on the market are only meant to serve as a back-up and not meant to replace a human driver behind the wheel. We are many years away from seeing true autonomous vehicle technology on the market. Yet, according to Tech Crunch, there are several sites that have been designated as proving grounds to test autonomous technology. These sites have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Michigan, California, the city of Pittsburgh, and central Florida are included in the list.
What will happen if vehicles are involved in deadly accidents or in accidents that result in injuries during testing? It is likely that the NHTSA will investigate any accidents and it appears that most tests will occur in controlled environments where the cars won’t be a risk to the general public.
As it stands, the greatest risk drivers face is not from the computer, but from each other. Every year, in Florida, there are 200,000 annual accidents. Many of these accidents can be blamed on human error, speeding, drinking and driving, and from distracted driving. If you or a loved one was involved or hurt in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, you and your family may be entitled to receive a recovery under the law. Andress | Inzina, LLC are personal injury lawyers who work closely with victims to help them get the justice they deserve.