Tesla manufactures driverless vehicles. These cars operate with advanced autonomous technology, which allows them to navigate on their own. No driver is necessary
In the insurance world, there is concern about liability regarding such vehicles. If the technology fails, it could lead to an accident. But, since the driver technically wasn't operating the vehicle, who is at fault?
Here's What Recently Happened
A Tesla driver died in an accident when his electric vehicle crashed. It slammed into a semi-truck at a high rate of speed. The Tesla driver was using the company's self-accelerating, steering, and braking technology to operate. The Tesla Autopilot feature functioned in the way the manufacturer designed it. However, the driver was not steering the vehicle at the time of the accident. Rather, he was relying solely on the technology. In this case, who caused the damage? The truck driver, Tesla itself, or the Tesla driver? It's unclear how such claims will proceed.
What the NTSB Says
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an investigation to determine the cause of the wreck. They found both drivers involved had at least 10 seconds to respond. Neither of them took any action to evade the other. This essentially indicates that Tesla technology contributed to the crash. However, the NTSB also made sure to note that the driver of the Tesla was over-reliant on the autopilot technology.
Where Does the Blame Go?
It can be hard to understand who holds responsibility in incidents such as these. This is especially true while autonomous driving technology is in its early stages of deployment.
The NTSB recommends that drivers limit reliance on self-driving technology. This means that drivers must still remain engaged in the task of driving.
Tesla does specify this in their documentation. Their technology requires that drivers have their hands on the wheel at least some of the time. Tesla also instructs drivers to remain engaged while the vehicle is in the motion. Still, the NTSB has said these measures is not enough.
When it comes to filing a claim for auto insurance, it is unclear who would pay for a wreck involving autonomous vehicles. New laws will likely go into effect as self-driving vehicles become more common. And these new laws will provide additional guidance for insurers. But until then, drivers need to remain engaged.
That means drivers need to focus on the road. They need to monitor navigation. They need to watch what happens around them. Driverless vehicles are likely to improve. However, at least for now, the driver remains responsible for what happens while the vehicle is in motion.
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