Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

No recall issued on semiautonomous car after crash

Automobile manufacturers continue to add safety features to vehicles to reduce the number of traffic accidents each year, and many people in California are enthusiastic about the technology. In addition to the airbags and anti-lock brakes that drivers may now take for granted, there are lane departure warning systems, cameras that detect other vehicles in blind spots and automatic braking. When people rely too heavily on new technology, though, they could be putting themselves at greater risk of a crash. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has released information indicating that a Florida man did not have his hands on the steering wheel for more than 30 minutes before he collided with a tractor-trailer. The documents stated that the vehicle's autopilot system was on and had given the man repeated warnings to take control of the steering. However, safety features on the vehicle should have responded by slowing down and leaving the road rather than just providing visual and audible alerts, according to the victim's family.

Since the crash, upgrades have been made to correct one of the issues, which was a visibility problem with the cameras. Although this was corrected, the manufacturer warns that drivers still should not engage in distracting activities, even while the vehicles are on autopilot. The investigation into the cause of the crash is still underway, but the NTSB has determined no recall or fine is necessary. 

When technology is involved, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault in a crash. Often, an attorney may be able to investigate the circumstances, including police reports and other official documents, to help identify the guilty party and obtain compensation for the victims.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Investigators to determine likely cause of fatal Tesla crash," Joan Lowy, Sept. 12, 2017

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