As drivers have become more accustomed to relying on the Autopilot assisted driving system on Tesla cars, accidents and fatalities while using autonomous driving technology have also increased significantly. Recently, a Tesla car driving in this mode hit a motorcyclist in the US state of Utah. The car hit the motorcyclist from behind. As a result of the impact with the ground, he lost his life and the driver of the car says he didn’t see him before the accident. Systems like these require drivers to be constantly aware of the road and be prepared to take control in the event of an error.
U.S. authorities to investigate Autopilot crashes more closely
This is by no means a unique case in the US. The NTHSA, the US traffic regulator, has 48 cases pending in 2022 involving accidents caused while using assisted or autonomous driving systems, 39 of which involved Tesla cars. In these incidents, no fewer than 19 people have lost their lives this year, the victims being pedestrians or motorcyclists as well as car drivers, passengers or other traffic participants.
These incidents have sparked a new investigation within the NTHSA, listed as “engineering analysis,” which will take a closer look at systems like Autopilot and Tesla’s Full Self-Driving. The agency also has another investigation underway to determine why there have been 16 incidents in which Tesla cars driving in autonomous or assisted mode have hit police cars or ambulances parked on the side of the road. These incidents occurred mostly at night, and the software chose to ignore warning lights, traffic cones and illuminated arrows. These incidents resulted in 15 injuries and one death.
As these are fairly new technologies, the investigations by US authorities could result in new regulations and legislation requiring manufacturers to follow certain rules in the development and implementation of these systems. Tesla continues to claim that its assisted and autonomous driving systems are statistically safer than human drivers.