While Tesla is rightfully considered a pioneer in self-driving vehicle technology, that technology still has a long way to go before it can be proven safe. A recent accident in Utah illustrates this fact. The driver of a Tesla Model S crashed into a fire truck and broke her ankle because, even though the Autopilot program was on, she was looking down at her phone. The reaction to this accident, or, rather, to the news coverage it received, should make residents of Oklahoma wonder about Tesla’s priorities.
The Tesla CEO, along with several of the company’s supporters, made comments on social media to the effect that such a minor accident should not become front-page news when more serious crashes are daily taking lives on the road. Others have replied, saying that any accident involving Tesla vehicles is newsworthy because it addresses some very real concerns.
A RAND study states that self-driving vehicles may need to be test-driven for billions of miles before they’re considered safer than human drivers. Tesla has not come close to demonstrating this either in real-world or simulated settings. In addition, the Utah incident shows that having Autopilot on can make drivers complacent and increase their risk of becoming distracted. While some people wish that Tesla would respond to the incident with more constructive comments, these do not appear to be forthcoming.
In the meantime, victims of car accidents can still file for compensation as long as they were not fully to blame. Accident settlements are usually paid out on the basis of comparative negligence, so it’s a good idea to have a lawyer negotiating for the maximum settlement possible. An attorney could have third-party experts bring together the police reports, eyewitness testimony and any other proof to build up the case. Victims can also ask for their lawyer’s assistance if litigation becomes necessary.