Tesla Motors announced on June 30, 2016 that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was opening an investigation into a recent fatal car accident that occurred in a Tesla Model S. The Tesla S was driving on a divided highway with the Autopilot function engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither the car’s Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was never applied. The Tesla Model S passed under the trailer with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the car.
Several media outlets reported that in the immediate aftermath of the wreck that a portable video player was playing the movie Harry Potter, which has fed conjecture that the Tesla driver may not have been paying attention due to his excess trust in the Autopilot feature. Tesla explicitly acknowledges that the Autopilot feature “is an assist feature that requires you to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,” and that “you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle while using it.” Nevertheless, a few Tesla drivers have recklessly used the Autopilot feature to play Jenga or to pretend sleep while driving (as can be seen on YouTube videos).
The best way to avoid a car accident is to drive defensively and always remain engaged and fully aware of the road and your surroundings. Although full proof Autopilot cars may be in the future, they are clearly not here yet. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or faced wrongful death due to car accident, call Milles Law to receive your rightful compensation. A car accident can be life changing and very expensive for those that suffer from personal injury. Milles Law will help guide you through each step of the process. Milles Law. Your Rights. Your Lawyer.