Residents of New York who are having doubts about the safety of semi-autonomous vehicles should know that they’re not alone. The recent occurrence of accidents involving these vehicles has raised many concerns, and each accident receives considerable media coverage. For example, a driver in Utah crashed her Tesla Model S into a fire truck on May 11 because even though the Autopilot program was on, she let her phone distract her from the road.
The driver survived, suffering a broken ankle. This has prompted the Tesla CEO and the company’s many supporters to express their discontent that a minor accident can receive such wide coverage while other more serious accidents don’t get attention. Their comments on social media have been criticized in turn for missing the point altogether. The fact is that self-driving vehicle technology is still a work in progress and that ever since Tesla’s Autopilot debuted, there have been accidents. Each one receives the coverage it does because people are concerned.
For example, the Utah driver incident shows that Autopilot can make drivers complacent and thus more prone to distraction. It is also well known that Tesla has not sufficiently test-driven its vehicles. A RAND study suggests that semi-autonomous vehicles must be test-driven for billions of miles before the technology can be considered safe. However, these and other concerns remain unaddressed.
Drivers are responsible for keeping their vehicles under control. When distracted drivers cause auto accidents, the victims typically have grounds for an injury claim. Before filing, they may want a lawyer to assess the claim and factor in any contributory negligence. Once the claim is ready, the lawyer may proceed to negotiations or litigation. If the claim is successful, the defendant’s auto insurance company might pay the damages.