Growing Debate Over Driverless Cars
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are discussing government recommendations and company policies prohibiting drivers from using smartphones while operating automatic driving systems. The NTSB released findings from a March 2018 car fatality case involving Tesla. The board provided nine new recommendations to prevent partially automated car crashes in the future.
Growing Debate Over Safety of Automated Vehicles
In March of 2018, a Tesla Model X SUV crashed into a concrete barrier dividing the highway in Mountain View, California. The accident killed the driver and Apple engineer, Walter Huang. Tesla’s automatic driving system was engaged and, most likely, Huang was distracted while playing games on his smartphone, according to recent findings from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). According to hearing details released last Tuesday, Huang’s Tesla first swerved onto a paved area between the travel lanes and exit ramp. “It accelerated to 71 mph and crashed into the end of the concrete barrier,” the NTSB said. “The car’s forward collision avoidance system didn’t alert Huang, and its automatic emergency braking did not activate. Also, Huang did not brake and there was no steering movement detected to avoid the crash.”
NTSB staff members said they couldn’t pinpoint exactly why the car steered into the barrier, but it likely was a combination of faded lane lines, bright sunshine affecting the cameras, and a closer-than-normal vehicle in the lane ahead of the Tesla.
This past Tuesday, the NTSB board provided nine new recommendations to prevent partially automated car crashes in the future. “Among the recommendations is for tech companies to design smartphones and other electronic devices so they don’t operate if they are within a driver’s reach unless it’s an emergency,” NTSB said.
Other recommendations include expanded testing on systems to avoid running into common highway and street obstacles and developing autopilot safety standards that would enforce drivers to pay better attention.
Chairman of the NTSB is seeking government regulations and company policies prohibiting drivers from using smartphones while operating these types of vehicles.
And, there is growing frustration from the NTSB towards the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Tesla for not acting on recommendations passed by the NTSB two years ago.
Using a cell phone while driving creates a huge potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. In 2017 alone, 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the NHTSA. If you were injured by a distracted driver, call HS Law today to speak with an attorney and discuss options. The first consultation is absolutely free. Call 404-400-1175 to discuss your options today.
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