Technology and distraction may be factors in fatal collision

Distracted driving kills people on New Mexico roads every year, yet drivers continue to multitask behind the wheel. Eating, drinking and talking on a hands-free device are just three of the many ways people occupy their time on their way to work or elsewhere. While automobile manufacturers are working to develop technology to prevent accidents, using these systems should not replace driver attention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not be penalizing the company that created the semiautonomous car involved in a fatal crash, even though the vehicle's cameras failed to detect a tractor-trailer turning in front of the car. The manufacturer admitted that the system had not been able to distinguish between the bright sky and the white side of the trailer, but pointed out that driver inattention and visibility conditions can cause wrecks, with or without technology. They have corrected the camera issue since the crash.

Although the cause is still under investigation, preliminary reports state that the driver may not have had his hands on the wheel for most of the 37.5 minutes before the collision. Data indicates that when the sensors did not detect driver contact, the system provided repeated audible alerts and visual warnings. The victim's family claims that the car's safety measures were supposed to slow the vehicle down and move off the road when the driver did not respond to the alerts.

Relying too heavily on safety systems can be one of the pitfalls of commuters. However, technology and distracted driving could both play a role in a crash. Many auto accident victims seek legal help in holding all parties at fault liable for the damages they suffered.

Source: San Fransisco Chronicle, "Investigators to determine likely cause of fatal Tesla crash," Joan Lowy, Sept. 12, 2017

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