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Culver City crash puts Tesla Autopilot safety in the spotlight

There is no doubt that the Autopilot driver assistance feature in Tesla vehicles is an innovative form of modern technology. When used properly, this feature can improve safety for the drivers of Tesla cars and others on the road, as well as provide a few impressive conveniences. However, to avoid accidents, it is also important for the owners of Teslas in California and elsewhere to have a full understanding of how the Autopilot feature works.

A recent accident on Interstate 405 in Culver City illustrates this point. According to authorities, the driver of a Tesla Model S was using the Autopilot system when his vehicle rear-ended a fire truck on the freeway. Fortunately, nobody was injured. It was unclear whether the driver had removed his hands from the steering wheel or was driving inattentively; however, there have been accidents in the past involving Tesla’s Autopilot feature, during which drivers were unaware that they must keep their hands on the steering wheel and stay fully attentive while driving.

According to officials from the Tesla company, the Autopilot feature will shut off if a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel. The system is designed to help make changing lanes safer and easier, as well as to assist in braking. Drivers may also use Autopilot to parallel park, to back out of parking spaces and to pick them up remotely from a short distance away. Tesla’s Autopilot system is not meant to transport passengers without an attentive driver behind the wheel.

Source: CNBC, "Tesla on 'Autopilot' crashes into firetruck on California freeway," Robert Ferris, Jan. 23, 2018

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