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Tesla’s Autopilot Recall Raises Safety Concerns


Today’s cars have so many features, they can practically drive themselves. Although we’re not exactly at the point where we have self-driving cars, we’re pretty close. In fact, as far as the government’s concerned, we may be too close.

Tesla Issues Recall

On the suggestion and recommendation of the US government, automaker Tesla has issued a recall on every single one of its vehicles. The problem? The self-driving features of the car are too easy to use, and drivers can be lulled into a false sense of security, by allowing the autopilot features to drive the car in places and in areas where it should not.

But the recall only is designed to make it harder to engage the self-driving features of the car; it does not altogether restrict the autopilot from being turned on. And some are concerned that this is especially dangerous in intersections, where there is cross traffic—areas where the autopilot feature can be particularly dangerous.

Proper and Improper Use

The autopilot feature is only supposed to be used on highways that are controlled access-that is, roadways that have a clear dividing center between the lanes, obvious lane markers, and no cross traffic.

But Teslas have been crashing into parked cars and malfunctioning in cross traffic, or even crashing into pedestrians, because of overuse beyond those parameters. One article found that there were eight crashes, causing death or serious injury, because of the use of the autopilot feature.

To Teslas credit, they are complying with the recall, even though the government cannot force a recall of any product—only suggest one. And it should be noted that Tesla doesn’t consider this a recall—just a software update.

The recall, once completed, will disengage the autopilot feature if the car senses that the driver is not engaged with the vehicle for extended stretches of time, and will provide new alerts to drivers using autopilot.

But the autopilot will still be able to be engaged everywhere, even on non-recommended roads, doing so will just result in more warnings. Many people would like to see the autopilot features permanently disengaged. Or to have the autopilot automatically unavailable on roads that aren’t recommended for autopilot usage. But neither option is likely to happen anytime soon.

Victims File Lawsuits

Victims of accidents involving Tesla’s autonomous features have filed lawsuits against Tesla, alleging that the Tesla knows or knew that the self-driving features are dangerous and can be abused, and that the features don’t do enough to prevent misuse. This recall is being viewed by some, as evidence of the claims being made in the lawsuits.

One such lawsuit involved the death of a Tesla driver, whose Tesla drove under a tractor trailer while using the autopilot in 2019.

Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, if you have been injured by a self driving car, or by any defect or malfunction in your or another vehicle.




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