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As California Law Relaxes, Self-Driving Car Accident Raises Concerns

Posted on in Personal Injury

San Jose car accident attorneys, car accident injuries, self-driving car accidents, self-driving technology, autonomous vehiclesThere is no denying that self-driving cars are the wave of the future, and California drivers continue to see more of these vehicles on the roads. The justification is that autonomous vehicles remove or reduce the potential for driving errors, which are the most common cause of car accidents and injuries. There are concerns, however, about limitations in these new technologies and over reliance on them on the part of drivers. Recent incidents in our area and in other parts of the state highlight the need for drivers to remain alert, even when operating a vehicle with self-driving features.

Safety Concerns Over Self-Driving Technology

A January 2018 Newsweek report about a self-driving car accident in Culver City highlights the concerns many have about autonomous vehicles. The accident involved a Tesla in autopilot mode, which crashed into a fire truck parked in an emergency vehicle lane. While the truck was clearly visible with lights flashing, the self-driving Tesla failed to recognize the obstacle and the driver failed to intervene. Miraculously, no one was injured, despite the fact that the car was totaled.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was called in to investigate the collision. One of the main concerns is the potential for ‘glitches’ in the Tesla’s operating system, which may have caused it not to detect the fire truck stopped ahead. The problem is especially disconcerting considering that California is the largest market for autonomous vehicle testing, with over 40 manufacturers, including Tesla, currently with self-driving vehicles on the road. California has even relaxed legislation concerning driverless autonomous vehicles, which the Newsweek report claims drivers could end up seeing later this year.

Drivers Need to Stay Responsible Behind the Wheel

As the Culver City car accident shows, just because a vehicle has autonomous features drivers still need to pay attention when behind the wheel. Even in a self-driving car, they can also still be held liable for car accidents that occur. Closer to our area and just days before the fire truck accident, Mercury News reported two incidents that highlighted the importance of being sober behind the wheel, even if you are in autopilot mode.

  1. The first occurred on the Bay Bridge, when officers noticed a vehicle stopped in the road with the driver passed out behind the steering wheel. Despite the driver’s protests that the vehicle was set to autopilot, he was charged with driving under the influence and his vehicle was towed.

  2. Within days of this incident and the Culver City accident, another incident occurred involving a self-driving Tesla motorist. This time, it occurred in Santa Cruz, when a driver got drunk and inadvertently drove his autonomous vehicle into a creek.

Despite self-driving functions, the owner’s manuals for these vehicles clearly warn drivers to stay alert and maintain control of the car at all times. If you or someone you care about is injured in this type of accident, you can still hold these drivers accountable for the damages you have suffered. Call or contact Jachimowicz Law Group and request a consultation with our passionate San Jose car accident attorneys to discuss your options and how we can help.

Sources:

http://www.newsweek.com/autonomous-tesla-crashes-parked-fire-truck-california-freeway-789177

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/19/chp-tesla-driver-arrested-for-dui-says-car-was-on-autopilot/

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