Tesla Shares Blame in Autopilot Crash, According to Federal Panel

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Who is liable for car accidents involving self-driving technology?

A fatal crash involving a Tesla vehicle operating in Autopilot mode called the nation’s attention to the potential dangers of self-driving technologies.  The accident happened in 2016 when a 40-year-old man driving a Tesla Model S sedan rammed into the trailer of a big rig that was making a left hand turn in front of it.  Investigations revealed the car was traveling at over 70 miles per hour using Tesla’s semiautonomous Autopilot feature.  Autopilot did not stop the vehicle in time to avoid the crash. Our Los Angeles car accident attorneys discuss the results of the federal panel which analyzed this Tesla accident in an effort to improve upon self-driving technologies.

Federal Panel Finds Tesla Driver, Truck Driver, and Tesla At-Fault

The National Transportation Safety Board reviewed all facts surrounding the Tesla accident and reached some important conclusions.  The panel found that the accident was caused by the driver’s overreliance on the car’s Autopilot system and the truck driver’s failure to yield when entering the roadway.  Additionally, the panel laid blame on Tesla, finding that Tesla’s Autopilot mode allowed the driver to disengage from the task of driving for a prolonged period of time and further the driver was able to use Autopilot on the wrong type of road.  Tesla’s system was criticized for simply relying on the driver’s hands on the wheel as an indication he or she is paying attention.

Despite this alarming crash, Tesla’s Autopilot feature has overall been met with success.  An earlier report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered a 40 percent decline in crashes after Tesla implemented automatic steering technologies.  Tesla has cautioned the public that its Autopilot mode is designed to be used in limited circumstances as the technology is still evolving.

With car companies nationwide increasingly focusing on developing self-driving technologies, the legal field will need to make some important decisions as to who is at-fault when accidents happen when a driver is relying on autopilot.  All drivers should closely monitor any and all cases involving self-driving vehicles and contact a car accident attorney if you are injured in such an accident.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.