For several years, the car manufacturer Tesla has been in the news almost monthly for some issue or another. If it isn’t production delays affecting a massive pre-order list for a new model, then it’s the founder of the company doing irresponsible things while recording an interview.
Some people feel so over-saturated with news about Tesla that they may just tune stories about the company out at this point. If you haven’t heard, Tesla recently announced a significant recall. It involves 54,000 vehicles and involves issues with their self-driving software.
What does this recall potentially mean for the future of self-driving vehicles?
More field research is likely necessary for future programs
The Tesla rollout of its innovative vehicle systems has seen challenges at every stage. This most recent issue reveals a major flaw in their self-driving software. Specifically, it appears that in the self-driving mode, some Tesla vehicles may continue to slowly roll through a stop sign instead of obeying traffic signs by coming to a complete stop.
The issue here is obvious. A vehicle operating in automated or “Full Self-Driving” mode could cause a car crash. Even if the driver of the Tesla wasn’t at fault, the failure of the vehicle to come to a complete stop could impact the assignment of fault after the wreck.
What happens after a crash with a vehicle driving itself?
The ability of a vehicle to operate without direct human oversight is certainly a long-term safety goal. With the right systems are in place, it is likely that automated vehicles would be safer than human-operated vehicles, as human error is responsible for the vast majority of car crashes.
If someone puts their vehicle into self-driving mode, that does not absolve them of responsibility if their vehicle causes a crash. You should still be able to make an insurance claim against their coverage although they weren’t actively in control of the vehicle. In certain cases, such as those involving an uninsured driver, faulty software or vehicle design might lead to a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Understanding the causes for and liability from car crashes can help you handle the fallout from one appropriately.