A recent crash has again drawn attention to the potential issues involved with autonomous vehicles. According to police reports, a Raleigh man was using the autopilot feature in his Tesla so he could watch a movie on his phone ended up slamming his vehicle into a sheriff’s car.

The crash occurred in the early morning hours along U.S. 64 west, near the border of Nash and Franklin Counties. A sheriff and state trooper were responding to an earlier accident that occurred on U.S. 64 when the Tesla hit the sheriff’s vehicle, pushing it into the state trooper’s vehicle. Thankfully, no one was injured in the crash, however, both the sheriff’s vehicle and the Tesla were totaled in the crash. The state trooper’s vehicle also suffered damage.

 The driver of the Tesla was cited for violating North Carolina’s Move Over Law. The Move Over Law was passed in order to protect law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, and utility workers who are working along the highway.

The law requires drivers to slow down and approach cautiously when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of the roadway with its lights flashing. Drivers are required to move over to another lane away from the emergency vehicle on a multi-lane highway or slow down on a two-lane highway and can do so safely. Drivers must slow down while maintaining a safe speed. Drivers must also apply these same steps for utility worker vehicles whose vehicle lights are flashing. A violation of the move over law will result in a mandatory fine of $250.00 plus court costs.

This accident is just one of many that have involved self-driving vehicles slamming into law enforcement and emergency vehicles across the country. In July, a Tesla slammed into the back of a Chevy Tahoe police vehicle and that impact caused the Tahoe to push into the ambulance it was parked behind in Arizona. Neither the officer nor the ambulance’s occupants were not injured in the crash. Police say the driver of the Tesla had the vehicle in self-driving mode and was also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Liability in Self-Driving Vehicle Accidents

These accidents demonstrate that self-driving vehicles are not really self-driving. They still require the full attention of the person who is sitting behind the wheel. As these vehicles become available to the public, there will need to be changes in federal and state laws that will determine the rules and regulations for oversight of these vehicles, as well as how accident liability will be determined in the event of the crash. Many states have enacted laws to address self-driving vehicles. In North Carolina, HB 469 was passed in 2017 which established regulations for autonomous vehicles (AV). Some of the regulations in this Act included the requirement of a special AV driver’s license is not required for the operator, requires an adult to be in the vehicle if a person under the age of 12 is in the vehicle, and established the Fully Autonomous Vehicle Committee.

Contact a Carolinas Personal Injury Attorney

Unfortunately, no matter how safe a driver we may be, there are always negligent drivers on the road who fail to adhere to safe driving practices. If you are injured in a crash caused by another driver, a North Carolina car accident attorney can assist you in obtaining financial compensation for any losses you have suffered as a result of those injuries. These losses include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, permanent disability, scarring, and more.

Contact the legal team from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today at (833) 997-1774 to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.