BUFFALO, N.Y. – The future of vehicle safety is already on display. Fully autonomous vehicles are on test roads but you’ll see some cars, fit with an array of sensors and cameras, are already making an impact on real-world roads.
Recently, one driver uploaded a video showcasing how this relatively new technology can prevent an accident. The video, which was recorded in April 2016, shows a Tesla Model S automatically swerving to avoid a merging truck.
A Buffalo car accident lawyer at Cellino & Barnes says although the video shows promising improvements in road safety, it also shows the need for drivers to stay sharp behind the wheel.
“Merging vehicles are often very dangerous and it’s important for drivers to remain aware of their surroundings while maneuvering in traffic in a city like Buffalo,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Although some cars can now automatically move out of the way, the entire incident could have been avoided.”
Clearly, the driver of the Model S depicted in the video was grateful the car suddenly changed its direction. The video’s description reads:
“Tesla Model S autopilot saved the car autonomously from a side collision from a boom lift truck. I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn’t watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the “immediately take over” warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision.
You can see where I took over when there’s a little bit of blip in the steering. Tessy had already moved to the right to avoid the collision. I was not able to slow down even more due to the heavy traffic (cars were behind me). Once I got behind him I slowly added more room between us until he exited. I was not tail gating after the incident.
It was a mistake on the other driver’s part. He did not even know I was there until I honked my horn. There was a group of women in the black sedan to my left and they went nuts about the guy and what he did (all kinds of gesturing in their car). Once I was beside the truck as it slowed down on the ramp, the guy gestured a “sorry!” I gave him, “it’s okay” wave.
Tessy did great. I have done a lot of testing with the sensors in the car and the software capabilities. I have always been impressed with the car, but I had not tested the car’s side collision avoidance. I am VERY impressed. Excellent job Elon!”
Although it’s not fully autonomous, Tesla’s Autopilot feature allows the vehicle to steer itself in emergencies and warn the driver of a pending side collision. In practice, the system has successfully shown that it can automatically adjust to avoid a crash.
Many safety advocates welcome the safety improvements but warn about the dangers of relying on them.
“It’s encouraging to see that companies are using technology to help prevent accidents.” Barnes said. “But electronic systems can fail so it’s always going to be important to have a deep understanding of how operate a vehicle.”
Tesla’s crash avoidance features were also recorded in action in November when a semi-truck was close to colliding with a different Model S.
Buffalo car accident attorneys say the features are a promising glimpse into the future of vehicle safety but there is no substitute for a safe driver.