Federal Regulators Investigating Tesla’s Autopilot Mode Following Fatal Crash That Killed a Tesla Driver Using the Software

The federal government is reviewing a fatal crash involving a Tesla driver in Florida who was using the company’s autopilot software. A tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection, prompting the company to conclude that the autopilot system did not activate the brakes because it did not recognize the white side of the turning vehicle against a brightly lit sky. This is the first known fatality in over 130 million miles of autopilot testing.

Tesla called the crash a rare circumstance and maintains that autopilot reduces driver workload and ultimately results in safety improvements. Its system assumes most of the driving responsibilities, but emits a chime and visual alert to drivers when it determines it can no longer safely drive without regular operation. Experts agree that self-driving systems could improve safety but have cautioned that Tesla’s system could lead to unsafe situations as drivers may not be ready to safely retake the wheel in instances where driver control is necessary.

Many automakers project 2020 as a year when self-driving systems will be released on public roads. The federal government is expected to release rules for self-driving vehicles later this year.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 60 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.