As technology advances, so do the safety features on automobiles. Many new models of vehicles now have automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, blind spot warnings, and more high-tech safety features designed to prevent crashes and make the roads safer. Some vehicles now even have autopilot features, in which vehicles steer, accelerate, brake, and move into different lanes automatically. Although drivers are supposed to be actively supervising the vehicle while it is in autopilot mode, there is a growing body of evidence that drivers often do not supervise their car when on autopilot, mistakenly believing that they are safe just because the feature is turned on. As autopilot and other safety features become more common on Maryland’s roads, drivers should be aware that they do not eliminate the risk of car accidents and remain cautious while driving. Unfortunately, even technologically advanced cars can get into dangerous Maryland accidents.
For example, a Tesla Model 3 was recently engaged in autopilot mode when it rear-ended two cars, including a police car. According to a news report covering the accident, the driver was checking on their dog in the back seat when the incident occurred, rather than actively supervising their vehicle. This is not the first time that cars on autopilot have gotten into accidents, and Tesla’s autopilot mode has been involved in at least three other crashes in the U.S., all of which led to fatalities. It is unknown at this time if the crashes are because of autopilot failures, or because of drivers being negligent while on the road, assuming that autopilot makes them safe.
Drivers, regardless of whether or not their vehicle has advanced safety features, should always remain cautious when on the road. Despite technology advances, car accidents remain a leading cause of Maryland deaths and injuries and can happen in the blink of an eye. When accidents do occur, state law allows for those injured to bring a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. Evidence that a driver was distracted while driving, whether it be from texting, talking to a loved one, admiring a view, or checking on a pet or child in the back seat, can strengthen the plaintiff’s case and make it more likely that they recover damages from the defendant.