Many drivers do not realize that a partially automated car is not a driverless car. As a result, semi-automated cars often end up in crashes that are devastating for the driver. Fortunately, the National Transportation Safety Board continues to monitor emerging technology and calls on the federal government to regulate these technologies as well.
Following a fatal car crash in California involving Tesla in 2018, the NTSB recently found that the company’s semi-autonomous driving feature was to blame. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. In fact, NTSB chairperson pointed out that he had asked six companies, including Tesla, to restrict their self-driving features and improve their technology to monitor drivers.
The investigation in question stems from a 2017 Model X going down the highway at 70 miles per hour with its autopilot feature on. The vehicle struck the concrete barrier, killing the driver. It seems that the driver was playing games on a phone provided by his employer and did not notice that the car was going off course.
The findings included the fact that Autopilot did not effectively monitor a driver’s engagement with driving and the timing of warnings was not sufficient enough to get the driver’s attention to either prevent the crash or reduce the severity. The company also needed to create a better system for avoiding crashes.
While Tesla alleges their cars are safer than an average driver, semi-autonomous vehicles have not yet become developed enough to completely avoid fatal motor vehicle accidents. As with any vehicle, drivers need to remain focused on the road without giving into any distractions.