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Tesla owners: Autopilot does not mean self-driving

Recently in California, the owner of a Tesla Model S crashed into a fire engine on the highway. Authorities said the man had been using the vehicle’s Autopilot driver assistance system at the time of the crash. Nobody was injured, but the incident raises awareness about the potential dangers of using new technology without fully understanding its purpose and limitations. Tesla owners in Missouri and elsewhere have a responsibility to properly and safely use the Autopilot feature in their vehicles.

Issues involving Tesla’s Autopilot are not new. According to CNBC, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Traffic Safety Board investigated the technology after numerous accidents associated with the Autopilot system, including one fatality in Florida. Neither administration found any defects in the technology; rather, the lack of driver knowledge or the system’s limitations were deemed responsible. For example, the cameras located in numerous places around the vehicle may be hampered by debris, making Autopilot less effective. A driver may also believe “autopilot” means he or she can turn on the system and let the vehicle drive itself, which is simply untrue.

Business Insider tells Tesla owners that the system is not meant to be operated without the driver’s hands on the wheel. If the driver removes his or her hands, Autopilot will issue a warning shortly before shutting down. When used properly, the system may reduce crashes by as much as 50 percent, according to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla. Those who are injured by another driver’s inattentive or negligent actions may have the right to pursue legal action.

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