Late last week, a Tesla vehicle crashed into an overturned Mack truck on a California highway at around 2:40 am. The truck had already crashed and was blocking two lanes of traffic when the collision occurred.
Two people were injured in the crash, and the driver of the tesla was killed. The 50-year-old truck driver was one of the people injured. A 30-year-old motorist who had stopped to help the truck driver after the first accident was also injured.
It is still unclear whether the Tesla was operating on its autopilot feature, or if the driver was exclusively in control. Tesla’s Autopilot is semi-autonomous driving system that is capable of a range of different driver-assistance features, including allowing drivers to take their hands off of the wheel for extended periods of time.
Liability issues associated with autonomous vehicles
Increases in the sale and use of self-driving vehicles have led to complicated questions of law. For example, will blame be negated or shifted if it is determined that an autonomous driving feature caused an accident? Should drivers who are injured in these accidents be able to recover anything from companies like Tesla who design and sell the cars? And will it make a difference if the car had semi-autonomous or fully autonomous features?
Because their vehicles are not yet fully autonomous, Tesla has stressed that that the feature still requires an attentive driver. This direction seems to contradict the opinion of Tesla’s founder Elon Musk who has argued that the feature is actually safer than most human drivers.
Ultimately, it is still unclear how we will deal with this type of technology, as issues seem to be arising quicker than the law is developing.