Software Glitches Responsible for a Growing Number of Auto Recalls
A growing number of motor vehicles are getting recalled for software glitches that may place motorists at considerable risk of injury or death. In the past year, several manufacturers have recalled vehicles over potentially deadly faults within their software programming. As vehicles become more dependent on computers and software, there is growing potential that these faults will lead to an increase in the number of motor vehicle crashes that cause injuries and fatalities.
The recall of Tesla Model 3 vehicles is perhaps one of the most visible motor vehicles recalls of 2018. The recall was ordered after over-the-air (OTA) updates of the vehicle’s software disabled key features including automatic emergency braking and autopilot control.
Tesla claimed the error stemmed from faults within the firmware that were not discovered until after the update was broadcast. It took nearly 24 hours to correct the problem and issue a corrected set of OTA commands to the vehicles.
General Motors Recalls
In September 2018, General Motors recalled 1.2 million light pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles after motorists reported problems with loss of power steering function. The recall covered vehicles manufactured in 2015 by Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac. Of the vehicles recalled, more than 1 million were located in the United States.
The problem was significant and was linked to 30 automobile crashes; two of which caused personal injuries. Fortunately, no fatalities were recorded. The problem arose after faults occurred within the software responsible for controlling the power steering module.
This was the second recall in two years issued by GM for similar software problems. The recall in 2017 encompassed nearly 800,000 pickup trucks that were affected by an identical problem. The dual recalls just one year apart have raised serious concerns that the problem may affect even more makes and model years.
Software and Liability
Software faults can cause the vehicle to lose power. Faulty software can cause the driver to lose control over the vehicle’s direction. These problems can also cause engine and throttle problems which can make the vehicle unsafe to operate.
When software causes a crash, a personal injury lawyer can pursue product liability claims against the vehicle manufacturer, software developer, and others responsible for the fault. Similarly, motorists themselves can be liable for failing to heed recall notices, and repair shops can be liable for improperly installing the software.