Is this the Tesla AutoPilot blame game all over again?

Remember how bad it got a couple of years ago when Tesla, as a company, was to blame every single time a driver was dumb enough to drive through their house, run a red light, or be involved in any other kind of accident? I honestly can’t recall how many times Tesla was actually found to be at fault, but I do know that there were more frivolous lawsuits that I could count on two hands. My favorite was the guy that drove through his own garage, but we’ll leave that story for another time. Now, a recently published report from the Wall Street Journal claims that people are “scared” to drive their own cars because automatic braking systems aren’t working properly. By that, I mean they are braking when they shouldn’t. Let me tell you a little more about the story before I get into my own personal opinion.

More Than 400 Complaints of Faulty Autonomous Braking Systems

In the same report, we’re told that the NHTSA has received more than 400 complaints over the last three years from owners of Nissan, Volkswagen, and Honda vehicles, among others. The complaints range from the brakes engaging when there’s no danger to the brakes not engaging when they should. In some cases, this supposedly causes accidents.

How many accidents related to rogue braking systems so far?

According to the report, a total of 14 accidents, all of which have a driver trying to place the blame on the automaker instead of themselves.

Apparently, most of these accidents involve the vehicle in question being rear-ended by a vehicle that was behind them when the brakes suddenly engaged without warning. In another complaint, a Nissan Rogue braked suddenly at highway speed.

All of this sounds a little fishy to me – just like a couple of years ago when the Tesla Model S and X were just going rogue for one reason or another. I know that autonomous braking technology isn’t perfect, but this is getting ridiculous.

People Keep Trying to Pass Off Blame for Their Own Mistakes

I have a funny feeling that autonomous braking systems are the Tesla Autopilot of today.

By that, I mean that automakers are going to start getting blamed every time someone makes a mistake because, you know, you should trust technology. I think about the road rage problem in this country and, suddenly, I have a wonderful excuse for brake checking someone that is riding my ass. Oh, I’m sorry officer – my car suddenly braked when it shouldn’t. See the online reports? I’m not the only one. Driving too fast down the highway and lose control? Oh, I’m sorry officer, my vehicle braked by itself when it should. Oh, how about this one: Sorry officer, I wouldn’t have hit that kid, but my car didn’t automatically brake like it was supposed to. I know I was definitely paying attention, though.

I’m sure that there have been a few mishaps here and there in regard to all of these semi-autonomous nannies that people put too much faith in. And, I know that the technology isn’t regulated in a unified manner across the industry, but in a world where so many need a safe space because there’s something happening in the world they don’t like, there are more people than ever that are too ignorant to take responsibility for their own mistakes. And, some believe that blaming a computerized, semi-autonomous system is a damn good way to get out of taking that responsibility and paying a ticket.

Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

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