In the wake of recent accidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles, many experts are arguing that this is the most dangerous time for motorists.
Automakers and tech companies are currently engaged in the race to get driverless cars onto the market. In their efforts, many have already released vehicles with semi-autonomous features.
Unfortunately, as recent accidents have revealed, many of these semi-autonomous systems rely on the unreliable assumption that drivers will remain attentive and ready to intervene at any moment. In fact, the opposite is true.
In May, a man was killed in a Florida accident involving a Tesla Model S vehicle that was operating in Autopilot mode. The vehicle failed to recognize a semi-truck turning in front of it. Neither the autonomous system nor the driver applied the brakes to avoid an accident, causing the vehicle to be crushed under the tractor trailer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating the accident and Tesla’s Autopilot system.
Evidence from the accident indicates that the driver’s failure to apply the brakes means that he was either not paying attention or saw the truck too late to take action, both of which are an indication that he was relying on the Autopilot system and his mind was elsewhere.
Decades of research has found that the transition to automation in other industries has led to more deaths rather than increased safety. This is because research has shown that people have a difficult time focusing on a boring task like monitoring an autonomous system that rarely fails and almost never requires them to take action. If the mind is not engaged, it will wander and focus on other things, which in turn significantly decreases a person’s reaction time if they need to take action.
Experts are arguing that until vehicles are fully autonomous, we can continue to expect to see auto accidents involving these vehicles. Some expect that this transition period could last for a while, given that many people are keeping their vehicles for longer.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a driver who was not paying attention while behind the wheel, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our experienced team of car accident lawyers to learn more.