In Auto Accidents Blog

self-driving carPolice in San Francisco are investigating whether a Tesla’s self-driving car technology was involved in a fatal car accident.

Self-Driving Car Technology May Have Been Activated

On July 20, 2019, a 22-year-old driver was operating a Tesla at a speed of at least 45 miles per hour in an area with a speed limit of 25 to 30 miles per hour when she ran a red light at an intersection and was broadsided by another car. The Tesla then struck a married couple in the crosswalk, killing the husband and leaving his wife in critical condition.

The driver was arrested and booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and running a red light. Drugs and alcohol did not appear to have been a factor.

The Tesla had been rented through the peer-to-peer car rental service Get Around. Officers are now investigating whether the vehicle’s partial self-driving car technology, “Autopilot,” had been activated at the time of the fatal crash.

Technology Involved in Other Fatal Crashes

If Autopilot had been engaged, it would not mark the first time the self-driving car technology has been involved in a fatal crash.

On May 7, 2016, in Williston, FL, the driver of a Tesla Model S traveling on Autopilot was killed when the vehicle failed to slow down or take evasive action before crashing into a semi-trailer that was making a left-hand turn.

According to a subsequent investigation conducted by Tesla, the crash occurred because “neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

The incident was strikingly similar to one that occurred in Florida on March 1, 2019. On that date, a Tesla Model 3 was operating on the Autopilot system on US 441 when the vehicle drove beneath a semi-trailer, killing the driver.

Another fatal accident involving self-driving car technology occurred in Mountain View, CA on March 23, 2018. At that time, a driver was traveling in a Tesla Model X SUV with the Autopilot feature turned on when the vehicle crashed into a median barrier, causing it to burst into flames before being struck by two other vehicles. The driver later died from major injuries sustained in the crash.

The first known fatal self-driving car accident occurred on January 20, 2016 in Hubei Province, China. On that date, a driver was killed after crashing into the back of a road-sweeping truck while reportedly operating a Tesla on Autopilot.

Tesla’s Autopilot system uses radar, cameras with 360-degree visibility, and sensors to detect traffic and nearby objects. With this technology engaged, the Tesla has the ability to automatically change lanes, steer, and brake in order avoid collisions.

Tesla insists, however, that drivers have the responsibility to remain alert while using Autopilot, keeping ready to retake control of the vehicle when necessary to prevent crashes. Critics of the technology argue that the “self-driving” nature of Autopilot would naturally cause a driver’s attention to drift, making sudden driver intervention less likely and thereby limiting the safety value of the technology.

The Value of a Car Accident Lawyer

Even with the most modern technological safeguards, drivers may fail to keep their attention on the road, resulting in serious injury to others. When this happens, the injured parties could benefit from the guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer to help them get the financial compensation they deserve, such as the car accident lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers.

With over $2 billion recovered for our clients and offices throughout the state, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.

If you have been wrongfully injured, whether because of self-driving car technology or in some other way, contact GWC today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 999-9999 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.