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Do autopilot features in automobiles really make our roads safer?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2022 | Car Accidents

Tesla electric cars seem to be all over the news lately, due to innovative technologies such as autopilot features that are meant to make our roads safer. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Teslas on autopilot were involved in 273 motor vehicle accidents over the past year. This is concerning as Teslas and other vehicles with autopilot features are becoming increasingly popular amongst consumers in the greater Seattle area and across the U.S.

Tesla’s safety record

The NHTSA reports that Teslas specifically were involved in 70% of all 392 motor vehicle accidents since July 2021 that involved advanced driver-assist features. Of the six fatal crashes in this data set, five of them involved Teslas. Regulators have found that Tesla’s autopilot systems shut off approximately one second before impact, too late to avoid a crash.

Tesla’s autopilot feature allows motorists to hand physical control of the car over to the car’s autopilot systems. Autopilot keeps the car running at the appropriate speed and keeps the vehicle at a safe distance from vehicles in front of it. Autopilot also keeps the vehicle in its lane and can reportedly make safe lane changes on highways.

However, motorists still must pay attention to the road while their vehicle is on autopilot. Some industry experts are concerned about how safe autopilot features really are, especially since they are tested on public roads.

Federal order requires crash reports

A federal order was issued in summer 2021 that required automakers to report motor vehicle accidents involving driver-assist features. Crashes must be reported if driver-assist features were engaged within 30 seconds of the collisions. This is to keep manufacturers from not reporting collisions on the pretense that the auto-assist features were not engaged at the moment of impact.

Auto-pilot systems are supposed to make our roads safer and reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents. However, now that safety is being called into question. It is important to understand how these Teslas and other automobiles with advanced driver-assist features perform in real-world settings. Time will tell how manufacturers of autonomous vehicles will address this issue and whether our roads are safer because of them.