Tesla Malfunctions Increasing
Recent increases in malfunctions of the Tesla Autopilot have attracted national attention. Safety concerns led the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to open investigations into its computer system. Reflecting the potential dangers of autonomous vehicles, research shows that Self-Driving Vehicles had more than twice as many crashes as conventional vehicles.
Looking at the Problem
The spate of safety issues with overheated touchscreens caused Tesla cars to lose displays from the rearview camera. With problems in the settings for windshield defrosters, the risk of a crash increases. In addition, the system indicators lost the ability to show the drive, neutral or reverse status of the car.
Reasons for the problems that DOT examined stem from insufficient cooling of the vehicle’s central processing computers. The company expects software updates to improve temperature management. Meanwhile, the issue caused the recall of about 135,000 vehicles in 2021. Previously, it had recalled more than 475,000 cars with the potential to increase risks of vehicle crashes.
Compounding the safety issues Tesla faces, complaints to the DOT about phantom braking issues led to an investigation by its Office of Defects. The condition occurs when Self-Driving Vehicles apply the brakes without a reason to do so. When a computer system detects an obstacle or anticipates a collision, it applies the brakes.
However, the malfunction can create an accident that causes a Personal Injury. A California Attorney can determine who becomes liable and provide legal representation for accident victims.
Getting National News Coverage
Recognition by The Washington Post of the increase in crashes involving Self-Driving Vehicles focuses attention on Tesla Autopilot vehicles. Almost 70 percent (273 of 392) of crashes since July 2021 occurred in vehicles with Autopilot software. The statistic reported by the Post provides new evidence about the functionality of the popular Tesla vehicles. In its recent report, the Post cited five of six fatal crashes as involving Tesla Autopilot.
Considering the Risks of Autopilot
Drivers can turn over the physical control of an electric vehicle to a set of software in the computer program. The cars can perform tasks like maintaining speed and keeping a safe distance. In addition, they can either stay within lane lines or make lane changes when conditions allow. However, drivers must pay close attention all the time.
Pushing the automated features to do more has led the company to produce a trial run of a full self-driving option. The feature intends to let a vehicle operate on city and residential streets instead of on open highways where it typically functions. Its ability to observe stop signs and respond to traffic lights raises questions by transportation experts about its safety. As it undergoes tests and training on public thoroughfares where other drivers travel, the public may have a reason for concern.
Even though the self-driving market continues to expand by about 16 percent every year, most people (75 percent) prefer to drive and ride in a self-driving car. Understandably, the fear of getting hurt makes everyone cautious whether walking or riding anywhere an autonomous car takes the road. Pedestrians risk sustaining a Personal Injury that can produce life-changing effects. After determining who the law considers liable, a California Attorney can help victims who decide to file a Lawsuit.
Even more, about the same percentage of the public does not feel comfortable with self-driving cars. As technology advances into letting cars drive themselves, the potential for personal injury in a crash may increase as well. Representation by an experienced attorney in California can make a difference in receiving compensation for the losses that penalize innocent victims.
Imposing Federal Requirements on Reporting
The increasing frequency of investigations into Tesla Autopilot has led to a federal order that requires automakers to report crashes involving self-driving cars. Determining whether the software creates safety risks benefits anyone who uses public roadways. The federal guidelines require car manufacturers to disclose crashes when a vehicle used Autopilot software or systems like it at least 30 seconds before a crash occurred. Unfortunately, investigators found that someone shut off the Autopilot system one second before a crash, defeating the purpose of the requirement.
The collected data provides a new view of computer systems like Autopilot, but many questions remain. Even so, it gives DOT regulators more information than they had before. For example, it shows that more crashes occur than the agency knew previously. Experts agree that autonomous technologies may ultimately make driving safer. However, whether they can do it remains an open question.
As federal agencies seek to hold car manufacturers accountable, victims of crashes that cause personal injury have access to the courts for relief. In California, accident victims can file a lawsuit to receive compensation. A California attorney with deep experience in representing victims unfairly harmed by the actions of others can provide legal guidance.
Receiving Acceptance and Popularity
Tesla sold about 78 percent of the electric vehicles in the U.S. with the Model 3 ranking ninth best-selling car, reflecting its enormous popularity. In addition, it sells more than any other electric vehicle worldwide. The model ranks as the 16th best-selling car in the world with an estimated 800,000 units sold.
The Post cites the growth in popularity as drivers decided to turn over driving tasks duties to automation. Features include advanced cruise control and the ability to perform routine driving functions. However, no automakers allow vehicles to operate on residential or city streets except Tesla. DOT noted that Autopilot runs on about 830,000 vehicles, some dating to 2014. Autopilot data has motivated DOT to probe issues such as incidents that involve crashing into parked emergency vehicles.
Several tragic events occurred in California where the Autopilot system had a malfunction. In one case, a driver who later died reported that it did not work in the area where the crash occurred.
Examining Crash Results
Patterns of crashes provide analysis of what happens in crashes where automated driving occurs. Vehicles usually run into fixed objects or other cars. Other accidents involved striking pedestrians, a cyclist or animals. Twenty struck a tree or a pole. Most incidents occurred in California and Texas where the noted automaker has home bases. However, almost a third occurred in California and only three in Texas. Residents may take special care to avoid cars where no driver has control.
A group of graduate students at Harvard studied the potential for self-driving cars to crash. A vehicle achieves sight by a camera on its roof and elsewhere on the vehicle. While cameras can identify shapes and colors, they cannot detect distance accurately. As an alternative, some vehicles use LIDARS, high-tech sensors that can detect both people and objects by surrounding them with invisible light pulses.
In addition, some self-driving cars use conventional radars. While the units cannot see anything clearly, they can detect moving objects more economically than other technologies. The gradual students concluded that the algorithms in computer software for autonomous cars need more work before they can assess the range of traffic situations that occur.
Suffering the Consequences of Driverless Cars
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that almost 8,000 pedestrians died in accidents in 2020. DOT data confirms that 6,516 of them occurred on public roads. Most happened in urban settings (80 percent) and 76 percent on the open road. About a quarter occurred at intersections, and the majority happened in low light conditions.
Car crash injuries inflict a psychological toll as well as physical suffering on innocent victims. Impact consequences may range from a constant headache to concussion or traumatic brain injury. Damage to the back in a crash may produce spinal cord injuries, herniated discs or fractures. Post-traumatic stress disorder may result from a car accident. Unfortunately, rear-end collisions often produce whiplash and other complications. Autonomous vehicles can create a need for victimless pedestrians or conventional vehicle drivers and passengers to receive compensation for injuries.
Contact our firm today at (888) 529-3111 if you or a loved one has fallen victim to any of these types of accidents. We have successfully settled over $2.2 billion for our clients and our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience.