Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

Autonomous vehicles may cause car accidents, injuries

Drivers in Connecticut and across the United States who use autonomous vehicles may be interested to know of the limitations the cars pose. These limitations were brought to the public's attention in 2018 when a Tesla Model S vehicle set on Autopilot crashed into a firetruck that was pulled over to the side of the road in Los Angeles.

Though a human can easily spot a firetruck and discern that the lights and sirens mean that there is an accident ahead, the same is not the same for vehicles with driver-assist systems, such as Autopilot. Vehicles with this type of technology use cameras and radars to scan the road ahead to gauge what actions should be taken. Experts say that the technology is often better at recognizing moving traffic than parked vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles work well when traveling in a single lane and adjusting its speed to maintain a safe distance. When a car ahead switches lanes, however, it takes time for the driver-assist system to adjust. This time-lapse can cause a car crash to occur. Though it does have limitations, autonomous vehicles also have some benefits. Studies show that when used as recommended as a safety supplement to the driver, driver-assist systems can reduce motor vehicle accidents by 20 percent.

Car accidents can have devastating effects on those involved. Catastrophic injuries, costly medical bills and lost wages can all result due to a car crash. Drivers who choose to use vehicles equipped with driver-assist systems have the responsibility to pay attention to the road and react accordingly. When they don't, the driver may have behaved negligently. In this case, the driver should have not relied solely on the Autopilot system and should have applied the brakes and switched lanes. A lawyer may be able to show that the driver behaved negligently and may be able to help the victims receive medical and compensatory damages.

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