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Tesla's auto pilot could be a factor in motor vehicle accidents

As the automotive manufacturing industry makes advances, a company called Tesla has released a car that has an auto pilot feature. However, until it becomes more commonplace and the kinks are worked out of it, that feature could be a factor in motor vehicle accidents across the country. One of the first took place here in Florida back in May.

A 40-year-old man was killed when an 18-wheeler failed to yield the right of way to his vehicle, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. To make matters worse, it appears that the auto pilot feature, which was believed to be activated at the time of the crash, failed to take evasive action as the truck turned in front of it. The preliminary investigation indicates that the car's computer system failed to identify the trailer -- possibly due to its light color, which was mistaken as the sky.

Tesla is cooperating with the investigation and provided police with a copy of the information downloaded from the car's black box. When the car struck the truck's trailer, it continued under it, and the car's roof was sheared off, but that did not stop the vehicle. It then kept going through several more obstacles, including trees and a fence, before finally coming to a stop. The driver never had a chance.

His family retains the right to file a wrongful death claim against all of the parties that could bear some responsibility for the death of their loved one. As is the case in other motor vehicle accidents, it will be up to a Florida court to determine what percentage of liability will be assessed against each party, if any. If an award of damages is made, how much each party that is determined to be responsible will owe to the family will be determined by that percentage.

Source: Reuters, "DVD player found in Tesla car in fatal May crash", Barbara Liston and Bernie Woodall, July 1, 2016

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