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Tesla’s self-driving system under federal investigation over fatal crashes

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2023 | Product Liability

Self-driving cars might be the future of transportation, but current technologies are far from perfect.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently requested automaker Tesla to submit information on all changes it has made to its Autopilot driver assist system. The request is part of a more extensive investigation into why Tesla’s vehicles using the limited self-driving feature have collided with stopped emergency vehicles. Investigators have found that since 2016, collisions caused by Autopilot errors caused at least 14 deaths.

In addition to a request for any changes the auto company made to Autopilot, NHTSA also asked Tesla if its vehicles had cameras inside that can monitor drivers if they were mindful of how Autopilot is driving, and whether the self-driving function only relied on cameras and not radar to view the road.

Tesla has until July 19 to respond to the request for information or face civil penalties.

What should you do if self-driving technology causes your car to collide?

If you’re the driver of a car with some form of self-driving technology and the vehicle crashes, who’s liable for the accident? According to the NHTSA, drivers must share driving responsibilities until current self-driving technologies achieve full automation. However, there’s nothing stopping drivers from suing the auto manufacturer if the use of self-driving technology led to an accident.

To file a product liability lawsuit against an auto manufacturer for defective self-driving technology, you must be able to prove that the technology made an error that caused an injury. You must also prove that the error occurred while the vehicle was being used as intended by the manufacturer.

However, proving these things can be tricky. Current self-driving technologies such as Tesla’s are far from being completely hands-free, so automakers might argue that drivers aren’t meant to allow AI to take complete control of their vehicles. If you wish to pursue a lawsuit, you should consider consulting with a legal professional to see if your case holds water.