NTSB Issues Report Regarding Last Year’s Fatal Auto-Pilot Crash

Last year, one man was killed when he was driving a vehicle equipped with a semi-auto-pilot feature and crashed into a truck. According to a recent report discussing the findings of a National Highway Safety Board (NTSB) investigation, it appears that the driver of the vehicle was given many warnings to take control of the vehicle in the moments leading up to the fatal accident.

Front-End DamageThe Accident

The driver of the vehicle was traveling on a Florida highway on a sunny day, using the auto-pilot feature on his Tesla Model S. At some point, a semi-truck made a turn in front of the Tesla, and the driver of the Tesla failed to stop, slamming into the side of the truck. The driver was killed instantly.

After the collision, the NTSB conducted a year-long investigation, only recently releasing its findings. Apparently, for the 41 minutes prior to the accident, the vehicle was in auto-pilot mode for 37.5 minutes. For all but 30 seconds of that time, the driver had his hands off the steering wheel. According to the newly released report, the vehicle’s automated system warned the driver seven times to place his hands back on the steering wheel and retake control of the vehicle.

Investigators say that the accident was caused when both the driver as well as the vehicle failed to take note of the white side of a semi-truck against the bright sky. While the preliminary results of the investigation have been released, the accident is still under official investigation with more conclusions to come in the near future.

Legal Issues Involving Automated Cars

With the technology rapidly advancing, automated cars will soon be common among drivers. While these vehicles present a host of benefits for drivers, they also present very real dangers – especially when the technology is new, and motorists are not accustomed to using it.

These vehicles also pose a number of legal questions. For example, who will be responsible when an automated vehicle is involved in an accident when the driver had placed the car in auto-pilot mode? It seems reasonable that under some facts, both the driver and the manufacturer of the vehicle could be held liable, but courts will have to determine new legal standards for establishing liability in accidents involving models equipped with self-driving technology.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling a wide range of car accident cases, including those presenting courts with issues of first impression. To learn more about Maryland accident law, and to speak with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

U.S. Supreme Court Discusses Which Damages Are Appropriate When a Party Acts in Bad Faith, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published May 9, 2017.

Court Refuses to Consider Driver’s Negligence When Hearing “Crashworthiness” Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published June 2, 2017.

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