Have You Heard About Tesla Autopilot Crashes with Emergency Vehicles?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into Tesla Autopilot crashes with emergency vehicles. The investigation began after a series of collisions with parked emergency vehicles. Below we will discuss the levels of driving automation as well as the study.
Driving automation has not replaced drivers. This means that everyone has a responsibility to drive safely. If you are injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer will help to protect your rights and ensure you receive maximum compensation.
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SAE Levels of Driving Automation
The below study references the SAE levels of driving automation. SAE International is a “global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries.” Its visual chart depicts its J3016 “Levels of Driving Automation” standard for consumers. This standard defines six levels of driving automation and is briefly described below. It serves as the industry’s reference for automated-vehicle capabilities. For more information, see our article on the levels of driving automation.
SAE Levels 0 Through 2
For SAE Levels 0 through 2, the human in the driver’s seat has to do the following:
- You are driving whenever these driver support features are engaged, even if your feet are off the pedals and you are not steering.
- You must constantly supervise these support features: you must steer, brake, or accelerate as needed to maintain safety.
Level 2 Driver Support Features
The below investigation focuses on SAE Level 2 driver support features. SAE Level 2 driver support features provide steering AND brake/acceleration support to the driver. Examples of these features include both of the following at the same time:
- Lane centering
- Adaptive cruise control
SAE Levels 3 Through 5
For SAE Levels 3 through 5:
- You are not driving when these automated driving features are engaged – even if you are seated in “the driver’s seat.”
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Tesla Autopilot Crashes with Emergency Vehicles
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified a problem with certain Tesla models crashing into in-road or roadside first responders. Since January 2018, the Office of Defects Investigation has identified 11 crashes. In the crashes, Tesla models have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes. The investigation found the following;
- Most incidents took place after dark.
- The crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones.
During the approach to the crashes, the involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either of the following:
- Traffic Aware Cruise Control
Autopilot is an Advanced Driver Assistance System. In Autopilot, “The vehicle maintains its speed and lane centering when engaged within its Operational Design Domain.” With the Advanced Driver Assistance System active, “The driver still holds primary responsibility for Object and Event Detection and Response.” This includes:
- Identification of obstacles in the roadway
- Adverse maneuvers by neighboring vehicles during the Dynamic Driving Task
Cars are not completely automated. If you are in a vehicle with Autopilot, you are still responsible for safe driving and maneuvering. Exercise extreme caution whenever you get behind the wheel to avoid a crash.
The investigation identified 11 crashes. The 11 crashes occurred on the following dates, in the following cities and states:
- July 10, 2021 San Diego, California
- May 19, 2021 Miami, Florida
- March 17, 2021 Lansing, Michigan
- February 27, 2021 Montgomery County, Texas
- August 26, 2020 Charlotte, North Carolina
- July 30, 2020 Cochise County, Arizona
- January 22, 2020 West Bridgewater, Massachusetts
- December 29, 2019 Cloverdale, Indiana
- December 10, 2019 Norwalk, Connecticut
- May 29, 2018 Laguna Beach, California
- January 22, 2018 Culver City, California
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As a result of the above crashes, the Office of Defects Investigation has opened a Preliminary Evaluation. The Preliminary Evaluation is of the SAE Level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance System (Autopilot). This system is in Teslas in model years 2014 to 2021, and includes the following models:
- Tesla Model Y
- Tesla Model X
- Tesla Model S
- Tesla Model 3
The investigation will assess the following:
- Technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation.
- The Object and Event Detection and Response by vehicles when engaged in Autopilot mode. And Operational Design Domain in which the Autopilot mode is functional.
The investigation will also include “examination of the contributing circumstances for the confirmed crashes” listed above under Crash List and other similar crashes.
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