With Tesla’s autopilot mode becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society, more people are found sleeping at the wheel of their car while it flies down busy interstate and highway roads.
Tesla’s vehicles are without a doubt one of the biggest controversies in the auto industry today. Whether it be it’s electric capabilities, the crazy references Elon Musk has put into the design, or the technological advancement of the self driving mode: Autopilot.
Many accidents have been reported since the company has unveiled their autopilot mode. With these accidents lawsuits have followed but seldom was there a victory for the plaintiff as the defendant (Tesla) was able to show the drivers were over relying on the autopilot features.
Most accidents that have been reported have been due to distracted driving at the time of the accident. Essentially, Tesla can show when and how often they had their hands on the steering wheel during autopilot mode. Showing they had only placed their hands on the steering wheel before their accident for less than 10% of the duration of the trip proves it wasn’t the Tesla’s fault as Tesla has said multiple times,
Autopilot is intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any given time.Tesla.com
This portion of their website essentially forces people into a limbo with having to use autopilot while continuing to practice normal driving habits.
When it comes to falling asleep at the wheel in a Tesla, Elon Musk has stated before he intends to implement a feature where after not having their hands on the wheel for longer than a dedicated amount of time, the vehicle would pull itself over and begin honking in order to wake the driver.
This however doesn’t seem to be the case in recent news as there have been more and more videos of Tesla drivers cruising at high rates of speed while they’re slumped over in their seats fast asleep.
It appears to be that in order for a potential winning lawsuit, autopilot would have to malfunction while the driver was still fully attentive in order for someone to have a standing chance against the automobile manufacturer.
There have been a few potential cases where autopilot has malfunctioned, but reports of drivers installing third party DVD players to watch while driving in their Tesla, drivers eating breakfast and reading the newspaper, and drivers being fast asleep during the accident have negated any fault or liability to the company.
Tesla has gone great lengths to ensure that there are measures in place for safety in their semi-autonomous vehicles. Musk has even stated before that a Tesla is not fully autonomous yet and shouldn’t be treated as such even though the vehicle has capabilities to go entire trips without needing driver input.
What’s Next For These Sleepy Drivers?
It’s difficult to see into the future, but one would have to speculate that there will be some laws implemented in attention to inattentive drivers in semi-autonomous vehicles in order to regulate the technology these cars have. As for personal injury lawsuits, it would be rather difficult to pin the blame on Tesla, so long as the driver remains distracted and over reliant on the technology.
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