Tesla Autopilot May Fail to Detect Motorcycles, Feds Investigating

Tesla Autopilot May Fail to Detect Motorcycles, Feds Investigating

People riding motorcycles could be at a greater risk of being struck by a Tesla running on Autopilot as the electric vehicle may be unable to see or detect these smaller motorists on dark freeways.

There are three fatal collisions involving Tesla vehicles under investigation to determine if the Autopilot feature is able to detect bikers. They all happened in the dark including one in Riverside, California, one one in Draper, Utah and the third in Florida.

Federal regulators are now looking into whether these Tesla vehicles on Autopilot are hazardous to people on motorcycles due to it’s failure to see them, according to an article published in the Insurance Journal.

An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began after the first two freeway crashes in California and Utah. The circumstances were very similar including the fact that they were both cruiser motorcycles with low tail lights that could have been misidentified as a car that was far away instead of a motorcycle. In fact, the artificial intelligence used for these system may not have detected the rider’s body because it was nighttime.

The NHTSA sent investigators to find out what led to the two collisions, but they suspect that Tesla’s partially automated driver-assist system dubbed Autopilot could be a factor in both cases. These systems used to be equipped with radar, but now only utilize vision through eight cameras to detect other vehicles and hazards.

Fatal Crashes Motorcycles and Tesla Autopilot

The first of the three collisions happened about 4:47 a.m. on July 7, 2022 in Riverside, California. A driver in a Tesla Model Y SUV heading eastbound in the HOV lane of State Route 91 crashed into a green Yamaha V-Star motorcycle. The bike was traveling ahead of the Tesla at the time of the crash. Upon impact, the rider, Marvin Walker, 48, was thrown off the motorcycle and died at the scene. The investigators are working to determine if the Autopilot was on and if it failed to detect the motorcyclist.

Meanwhile, later the same month at 1:09 a.m. on July 24th, a driver in a Tesla Model 3 sedan was traveling in the HOV lane on the Interstate 15 Freeway near Draper, Utah. The Tesla reportedly crashed into the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle also traveling in the HOV lane. The Tesla driver told authorities they did not see the motorcycle and the vehicle was operating on Autopilot. Sadly, the motorcyclist, Landon Embry, 34, died at the scene of the crash.

Finally, a third deadly motorcycle crash occurred in Palm Beach County, Florida at 2:11 a.m. on August 26th. Ingrid Eva Noon, 51, of Boca Raton, was rear-ended while riding a Kawasaki Vulcan “S” by a Tesla driver using Autopilot. She was thrown off the bike and landed on the windshield and later died at the hospital, according to Boca News Now. The collision occurred at South West 18th Street and Boca Rio Road. This crash also happened in the dark in the HOV lane, but unlike the other two collisions it was not a freeway, but a major three-lane road.

The NHTSA has investigated at least 39 collisions involving automated driving system crashes including 30 involving a Tesla vehicle. Some 19 people died in those Tesla collisions. The federal agency is working to determine if they should regulate self-driving vehicles or partially automated systems such as Autopilot.

All automakers using automated driving systems in their vehicles are now required to report any collisions to the NHTSA. A recent report released last June, showed roughly 400 collisions occurred over a 10-month period involving 273 Tesla vehicles. However, the federal agency also stated that Tesla’s telematics provide the data in real time which is quicker than most other companies. Also, Tesla has more than 830,000 vehicles operating on roads with these Autopilot systems in the United States alone.

Also, the Austin, Texas-based Tesla is the target of a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2021 over its claims that Tesla vehicles can drive themselves, Reuter reports. Tesla has reportedly marketed its self-driving capabilities since 2016.

Finally, the American Motorcyclist Association has raised concerns that Tesla drivers using Autopilot may be inattentive and this is a danger to people riding motorcycles who are becoming targets. They want NHTSA to test the Autopilot systems to ensure they can detect motorcycles. In the past, drivers would tell bikers they didn’t see them and now they are going to tell them “Sorry my car didn’t see you,” said Rob Dingman, president and chief executive of the American Motorcyclist Association.

California Lemon Law Attorney James Johnson

 Tesla Autopilot May Fail to Detect Motorcycles, Feds Investigating

If you purchased a Tesla and you have repeated problems or you worry that the Autopilot system is a major safety issue, it may be time to call for help.

California Lemon Law Attorney James Johnson will review your case and let you know if it qualifies as a lemon.

We recommend that you obtain an invoice for all repairs and recall visits from the dealership. These documents will support your potential case. Should the vehicle experience repeated issues or become a safety risk, these documents support the Lemon Law Claim. Contact us for a free case review at 1-800-235-6801.

James Johnson ESQ