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Inattentive Driving is Distracted Driving

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question came from a caller whose driver’s assist package malfunctioned and caused his car to slam on its brakes. Luckily there was no collision, but he wanted to know his legal options. He was told it might be months before the part is available to fix the issue. Thankfully, the dealer helped him disable the feature for now.

Maybe you’ve noticed that there have been quite a few articles on our blog about Tesla over the years. But the caller’s car was not a Tesla; instead, his car was made by a well-known German automaker whose name starts with the letter B.

We’ve shared our thoughts on Tesla’s autopilot (they call it driver assist). We have addressed their infotainment features, such as watching movies and playing video games while driving. In all those articles, you would think that we are anti-Tesla. We are neither anti-Tesla nor anti-technology.

What we are is anti-negligence.

Unfortunately, driver assistance systems that malfunction pose a danger on the highway. So do assist packages that lull the driver into inattentiveness to the road.

When a manufacturer creates a product that enables a consumer to no longer control their environment, it can potentially lead to another person being injured or, worse, killed.

Allowing that product to be fitted into a vehicle that can travel on highways at high speeds creates an opportunity for negligence to occur fast and with great destructive force.


One of the most important things to understand about personal injury law in the context of auto accidents is the principle of negligence.

To recover damages for an injury sustained in a car accident, you must be able to prove that the other driver was negligent in some way.

This means they failed to exercise the level of care and caution a reasonable person would have under the same circumstances.

The most common form of negligence in car accidents is distracted driving.

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road, such as texting, eating, or playing with the infotainment display.

A distracted driver can be held liable for any injuries or damages that result.

What happens if a driver assist feature on a car, call it autopilot or something else, results in a driver taking their eyes off the road?

Or causes them to decide to take a nap while behind the wheel?

Recently a driver of a Tesla engaged the driver assistant and quickly fell asleep.

A police officer noticed the driver slumped over, pulled his cruiser next to the Tesla (while on a highway doing 82 mph), and tried to get the driver to wake up.

Fortunately, the driver did wake up and was able to safely stop. Nobody was injured, thank goodness. The driver was cited for “inattentive driving.”

The officer could not cite Tesla for contributing to cause “inattentive driving,” but Tesla’s safety system, albeit misused, actually did lead the driver to be inattentive.

Imagine if that scenario played out differently. At 82 miles per hour, the driver of the Tesla could have caused much death, and destruction had he collided with other cars.

Sadly, a California man died when his Tesla impacted the rear of a stopped tractor-trailer. The man had shared videos on his social media of him engaging the driver assistant shortly before the crash.

What is the solution when a company demonstrates that it values technology-assisted features over the laws that are supposed to keep consumers safe?

Many states are now pursuing legislation that would hold autonomous vehicle (AV) manufacturers accountable for manufacturing vehicles that directly result in a violation of traffic rules.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – While there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”