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Tesla on Autopilot involved in Fatal Car Accident was Speeding

As you are likely aware by now, Tesla has developed an autopilot system for their luxury electric cars. Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, and his company had been rushing to get a self-driving car on the road before industry giant Google.  Google has been actively working to develop a self-driving car for years and still has a few years to go, according to the company.

porscheHowever, the company believes that when it does debut its self-driving car, it will be far more advanced than anything on the market now or then and will be a truly autonomous vehicle that allows you to input a destination, and the car will the do the rest.  This is different from Tesla’s new system that is essentially an advanced version of cruise control.  With the Tesla system, the car will travel one road and is supposed to be able to slow down and speed up and change lanes when necessary, but it is not the same an autonomous vehicle, and the driver is supposed to keep his or her hands on the wheel at all times.

While the system for Tesla is already on the market, we have already had several accidents included one fatal car accident. In that accident, investigators believe a large semi truck was traveling down the road and a made a turn in front of the Tesla S Model.  The electric car’s autopilot system did not detect the truck, because the entire side of the trailer was white, and the system’s cameras could not distinguish the bright side of the truck from the bright sky and did not apply the brakes or take any evasive maneuvers.  The Tesla crashed into the truck at a high rate of speed, and the driver of the Tesla was killed.

The question was how fast was the Tesla actually going at the time of the crash.  These days, all cars, and especially luxury electric cars contain on board data recorders that function similar to a black box on a commercial airliner.  While the system is not as sophisticated as the one on the plane and does not record what people in the passenger area say, as it does on an airplane, it does record the vehicle’s speed, what controls were engaged, including brakes, and a variety of other useful data a crash reconstruction team to use to aid them in finding out exactly what happened.

According to a recent news feature from the Boston Globe, investigators now believe the car was traveling at nine miles per hour over the posted speed limit right before it crashed into the truck. From a potential liability standpoint should there be a car accident lawsuit filed, this raises an interesting question over whose fault the accident is and if there was anything that could be done better to avoid accidents.

If the vehicle was speeding and the autopilot was engaged, then the question is whether the system knew it was speeding and decided to do so anyway, or if it did not realize the current speed due to some mechanical or equipment failure.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Tesla car in fatal crash was exceeding speed limit, July 27, 2016, By Joan Lowy, Washington Post

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