An accident victim who was driving her white Tesla Model S was rear-ended by another vehicle on Interstate 275 in Florida. According to the news report on nytimes.com, after the victim’s Tesla was rear-ended, her car skidded across the median and crashed into the shoulder on the other side of the interstate. After the crash, the victim reported to law enforcement officers that her car’s Autopilot, Tesla’s driver-assistance system, suddenly triggered her car’s brakes for no reason. She also stated that she could regain control of the car as it slid across the interstate.
Other Tesla vehicle owners have reported situations such as these. Fortunately, the victim’s Tesla logged a lot of helpful accident data. Moreover, the car is equipped with multiple video cameras and other sensors. The crash data provided a very detailed account of what transpired. The data and video showed that 10 seconds prior to the rear-end collision, the accident victim prompted her car’s Autopilot to change traffic lanes.
Auto manufacturers such as Tesla are increasingly trying to collect accident data to improve their self-driving technologies. This information isn’t shared with the public, which could show the risks and rewards of advanced driver-assistance systems, which have been involved in nearly one thousand accidents in 2022.
Safety experts state that this crash data can change how insurance companies, regulators, police departments, and other organizations perform more accurate and less expensive crash investigations. The crash data could also improve auto regulations by providing federal officials with a clearer picture of what should and should not be permitted. Traffic accident fatalities climb to a 20-year high in the first three months of 2022, and federal regulators are attempting to find strategies to reverse this trend.
“This can help separate crashes related to technology from crashes related to driver error,” said Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in driver-assistance systems and automated vehicles.
According to experts, this crash data is more extensive than the crash data collected by automotive black boxes. Tesla’s accident data is a continuous stream of video of the vehicle’s surroundings and vehicle performance data, millisecond by millisecond. Also, the data also collects insights into the behavior of other vehicles and objects on the roadway. In the past, crash video was not available. Video can tell a completely different story. For example, a motorcyclist was killed when it crashed with a Tesla in Jacksonville, Florida. The Tesla owner stated that he had no idea what caused the accident. Law enforcement believed that the Tesla driver simply crashed into the motorcycle. However, the Tesla’s video captured video showing the motorcycle had lost a wheel due to a loose lug nut. When detailed crash data is used with video, the results are even more useful.
Matthew Wansley, a Cardozo School of Law professor who specializes in automotive technologies, cites a new academic paper that persuaded him that automakers should be required by law to collect this data and share it with federal regulators after all accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also believes this data and video collection would greatly improve road safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently collecting some data from Tesla while it investigates a number of accidents involving Autopilot. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that the data strengthens their investigation findings and is often helpful in understanding accidents.
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