As technology advances, so too does the number of safety features available on cars. Maryland drivers can now purchase cars with features such as blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, surround-view camera systems, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, to name a few. Famously, Tesla is actually producing automobiles with an autopilot mode, which uses radar and cameras to drive the car without the assistance of the driver. Autopilot mode, and other safety features, should reduce the number of Maryland car accidents that occur each year when they work as expected. But, unfortunately, these features cannot always be a guarantee of safety.
For instance, a video of a recent Tesla car accident recently surfaced raising concerns about the company’s autopilot mode. According to a recent article covering the incident, a large truck was lying on its side on the freeway, covering the entirety of the two lanes on the left. The traffic on the road was light, and the visibility was good—meaning the Tesla, driving in the farthest left lane, should have been able to see the truck. However, the Tesla drove at full speed directly into the top of the truck, indicating quite clearly that the driver was not paying attention. After the accident, the driver told authorities that the autopilot feature was on, raising interesting legal questions regarding liability.
While fortunately no one was hurt in the incident, similar accidents may cause severe injuries or even death. Maryland law allows those injured by negligent drivers to file a personal injury suit to recover for their injuries if they can prove the driver was at fault. In this case, a driver may want to blame Tesla and the failure of autopilot for causing the accident. However, it is important to keep in mind that autopilot mode is not intended to be a substitute for watching the road. While using the autopilot mode, Tesla drivers are still expected to pay attention to the road and keep their hands on the wheel. Not doing so is likely considered negligence and can be used to hold a driver liable for accidents that may occur while driving with autopilot on.