Fully autonomous cars are supposed to be the future of driving. Proponents of the technology, which is being actively pursued by a long list of automakers, claim that it will make roads safer and less congested. However, there have been a number of deadly accidents linked to self-driving vehicles.
The Race to Build Autonomous Cars
Self-driving cars have been in development for years, with companies such as Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Uber, and Google racing to get their autonomous vehicles on the road. Experts say that, when perfected, autonomous vehicles will be capable of driving without human interaction, greatly reducing traffic-related accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Some new cars and trucks already have semi-autonomous technology. For example, Tesla cars feature an AutoPilot mode, which is halfway between non-autonomous and fully autonomous. When turned on, the system can steer, brake, and sense obstructions in the roadway, essentially driving the vehicle. However, Tesla warns the technology is only intended to assist drivers, not operate the vehicle on their behalf. Unfortunately, some drivers haven’t listened to that warning.
Self-Driving Vehicle Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there have been at least 13 crashes involving the Tesla AutoPilot system, resulting in three deaths. Federal investigators determined that these accidents are a result of the vehicles allowing their operators to “zone out” for periods of time that are so long they’re unsafe.
After a fatal 2018 crash, a two-year National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the driver, a 38-year-old California man, was playing a video game and did not notice that his Tesla was veering toward a crash barrier. Investigators concluded that Tesla was partly to blame for the crash, citing that the AutoPilot name lulls drivers into a false sense of security and the AutoPilot system fails to monitor driver engagement.
Meanwhile, fully autonomous vehicles are also off to a rocky start. On March 18, 2018, a self-driving car developed by Uber ended up being responsible for the world’s first robot car death when it struck and killed a woman during a late-night test drive in Arizona. According to investigators, the Uber car failed to automatically apply the brakes, and the Uber’s driver failed to stop the vehicle until it was too late and a woman was dead.
An NTSB investigation concluded that the accident occurred due to technological and human failures. First, investigators found that the Uber vehicle involved in the crash detected and started tracking the movements of the woman 5.6 seconds before impact. However, the car’s autonomous system failed to identify her as a human being and failed to predict her path across the road.
Second, investigators found that Uber decided to reduce the number of safety drivers in each test vehicle from two to one just weeks before the crash. This decision reduced the possibility of a human recognizing the system’s failure and preventing the crash.
Legal Help for Victims of Self-Driving Car Accidents
While it is clear that self-driving automakers are responsible for some of these accidents, the process of suing Uber or Lyft is not as easy as it may seem. These cases involve large corporations and big insurance companies that will attempt to fight any claims filed against them.
However, with the help of an attorney, it may be possible for victims of self-driving car crashes to get the justice they deserve. An attorney could gather crash reports, witness testimony, and other evidence supporting a victim’s claim. This evidence could be used as the basis for a personal injury lawsuit filed against the at-fault parties.
If the lawsuit is successful, the victim could receive compensation for a number of damages, including medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
” This article is a collaboration with a freelance writer and follows The Haitian Times publishing guidelines”
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