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Safety groups consider all vehicle autopilot systems flawed

Partially autonomous systems in vehicles meant to assist drivers and prevent accidents have proven popular with California motorists. Automotive safety groups, like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Thatcham in the United Kingdom, caution people against crediting autopilot features with perfect capabilities. They all require an attentive driver, and some systems should only be used under narrow circumstances.

For example, the manual for the Tesla Model S specifically states that autosteer should only be used on restricted use roads like freeways. Autosteer is designed to keep a vehicle between the painted lane lines. Self-driving features have been targeted by critics who say that some people might rely on the autonomous systems too much and misunderstand their limitations.

Auto manufacturers strive to develop systems that prod human drivers into paying attention. Software updates for Tesla vehicles now prompt drivers to put their hands on the steering wheel at regular intervals. Cadillac vehicles monitor drivers with infrared cameras to confirm that their heads are facing the road. A system in Audi vehicles tracks where people look. Although evidence suggests that autopilot technology reduces accidents, it remains imperfect. Three Tesla vehicles hit stationary fire trucks this year while using autopilot. Two fatal Tesla accidents have also occurred when the system was active.

When a person is hurt in a crash caused by another party's error or reckless action, financial trouble could result for the victim. A personal injury lawsuit might be needed to pursue damages to replace lost income and pay medical bills. An attorney who has car crash litigation experience can often be of assistance to injured accident victims.

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