Here’s What the Tesla Recall is All About
You may have heard that every Tesla on the roadways has been recalled. The recall requires a software update, but at the heart of the recall is technology which is in almost all modern cars nowadays.
Tesla’s Autopilot Feature
Like so many vehicles, Tesla has features on its cars that allow it to drive on autopilot. Although every car is different to some extent, generally, autopilot features allow a car to stay within the lines of the road, and a safe distance behind the cars in front, with little or no driver interaction.
Tesla vehicles have a more extensive suite of these “self driving” features (although it’s important to note that neither Tesla, nor the government, refer to Teslas as “self driving cars.”)
But self-driving features, at least on Teslas, are only supposed to be used on roads that are called “controlled access.” This means roadways that have no intersections or cross streets, with a clearly defined median. The technology simply isn’t advanced enough to make driving on roadways with stop signs and cross streets safe.
No Ability to Disengage Autopilot
The problem is that the Tesla autopilot feature can be engaged by the driver on any road—not just on controlled access roads. And it has been engaged in the past, leading to accidents. There are stories of Teslas crashing into other cars, parked cars, or pedestrians.
By some counts, there have been as many as eight deaths, caused by the improper use of the autopilot feature.
The recall is to try to update Tesla’s technology, to allow it to warn drivers when the autopilot feature is being used when it should not be used. It will also do more when it senses that the driver is not operating the car (drivers are still supposed to have their hands on the wheel, even when autopilot is engaged). The government suggested the recall, and Tesla (which calls it a software update, not a recall) has complied.
But many safety critics don’t think the government or Tesla went far enough. They argue that the software update just amounts to more warnings—it still doesn’t actually prohibit a Tesla operator from engaging autopilot somewhere that it shouldn’t be engaged. But right now, there are no plans to have the autopilot feature disengage over the driver’s wishes.
Lawsuits and Recalls
The problem hasn’t gone unnoticed in court; lawsuits have been filed against Tesla, related to deaths and injuries caused by the engagement of the autopilot feature. One plaintiff bringing the suit is the estate of a driver that was killed when his Tesla drove under a large truck, resulting in death.
This is one problem with recalls, and voluntary recalls—many companies are hesitant to comply with government regulations, for fear that doing so will be seen as admitting the vehicle was dangerous.
Call the Boston personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. today at 617-275-4200 if you have been injured on the road by a careless or negligent driver.