When police responded to a fatal accident in Spring, Texas, on April 17, they found something unusual: No one was in the driver’s seat of the 2019 Tesla Model S. Now, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA) is investigating the crash that killed two men in their 50s.
Texas crash with no driver at the wheel
One man was found in the Tesla’s front passenger seat and the other was in the back of the vehicle after the crash. Police reported that the vehicle was driving at high speeds when it failed to negotiate a curve and crashed. It is unclear if Tesla’s AutoPilot feature was in use. Just hours before the accident, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that a Tesla with Autopilot engaged was 10 times less likely to be involved in an accident than a regular car.
The safety of self-driving cars
The safety of self-driving cars has come under deep scrutiny in recent months. While Musk plans to release more self-driving Teslas in 2021, the NHTSA currently is investigating more than 25 crashes with Tesla cars. Also, in question by safety experts is branding Tesla’s Autopilot feature as self-driving because it isn’t fully autonomous.
In addition, safety experts are concerned that drivers who only have to minimally oversee a car’s operation are more likely to become distracted and that could cause additional accidents. Plus, self-driving cars may become involved in an accident if a part of a car’s autopilot system fails.
For now, the future is uncertain as to how well self-driving cars will work and how much they will reduce accidents. Plus, those who have self-driving features on their cars may have a claim against a manufacturer if their self-driving system fails and causes a serious accident.