Is Tesla’s Autopilot Feature Safe?

July 7, 2022
tesla autopilot

Recent research has raised important questions about the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot feature. Multiple studies reveal concerning patterns among drivers using Autopilot. They are more likely to be distracted for extended periods compared to driving without Autopilot.

While self-driving features are undoubtedly exciting, every motorist should be aware of their limitations and take precautions to drive safely and avoid car accidents while using this technology.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) computer is the foundation for the carmaker’s Autopilot feature. FSD is an advanced driver-assist program that helps with accelerating, braking, and steering in response to nearby vehicles and pedestrians. The Tesla website does remind drivers that even with the FSD technology, their cars require active supervision and are not fully autonomous.

Autopilot shows promise for the future of self-driving cars, but this technology is not perfect. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated Tesla’s driver-assist features after reporting several crashes involving Tesla cars colliding with stopped emergency vehicles.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also investigated 31 crashes involving semi-automated driver assist systems since June 2016. In response to Tesla crash data, the agency recommended that the NHTSA and Tesla restrict the use of Autopilot to areas where it can be used safely.

The NTSB also asked Tesla to develop a better system to ensure drivers are always alert and engaged. Even though Tesla’s self-driving feature requires driver attention at all times, Autopilot features seemed to give participants a false sense of security, causing them to be distracted. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that off-road glances for participants were longer when Autopilot was engaged than when it was not.

Until self-driving systems are proven 100 percent infallible, people should be ready to intervene at any time while driving. No matter the car feature, it is the responsibility of the driver to operate their vehicle safely.

Liability for Self-Driving Crashes

Because self-driving technology is still fairly new, some states do not have legislation regarding autonomous vehicles. It is most likely that a licensed driver behind the wheel of a self-driving car at the time of a crash may be considered liable. If a technological failure is the reason for the accident, the vehicle manufacturer may be at fault.

If you are hurt in an accident involving a vehicle on auto-pilot, your priority should always be medical attention. Assess your injuries at the scene and dial 911 for assistance. If you can, gather as much evidence as possible at the scene.

Take photos of the vehicles, and ask other drivers and witnesses for their contact information. Tell the responding police officer what you recall about the accident. If you suspect the other driver may have been distracted, impaired, or careless, mention it to the police to conduct a thorough investigation. From there, contact an experienced car accident lawyer for guidance regarding your situation.

Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Advocate for Clients Injured by Careless Drivers

Our Media car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. will fight for you every step of the way after a car accident. We are committed to achieving a good outcome for you. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.