Musk Claims No Self-Driving Tesla Have Crashed, U.S. Regulars Report At Least Eight
According to a news article published on LATimes.com, Elon Musk has always asserted that Tesla's automated driving software is safer than human drivers. Tesla ramped up its safety claims last fall when it expanded its Full Autonomous-Driving "beta" program to more than 100,000 vehicles. Autopilot is a $12,000 feature that supposedly allows an equipped Tesla to drive itself along highways and streets, making turns, changing lanes, and obeying traffic signals and signs automatically.
Safety experts have criticized Musk for testing his experimental technology on public streets and highways without properly trained safety drivers to backup the self-driving software to keep other motorists and the public safe. Those who support self-driving technology state that there have not been any accidents with injury or death involving the beta launch. Mr. Musk reacted to the claims that there were no accidents with injury or deaths with one single word, "Correct."
However, it was known that dozens of drivers had filed safety complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning incidents involving Full Self-Driving vehicles. Eight of the incident reports involved collisions. These complaints can be reviewed in an accident database posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. One driver stated that Tesla's Autopilot suddenly and automatically "jerked right toward a semi-tractor-trailer truck" before it accelerated into a median, causing a crash. The report states that the Tesla car drove into the wrong lane while Autopilot was turned on. The report states that the victim's car was then struck by another car. The accident was a result of an Autopilot failure.
Twitter, YouTube, and other social media are full of videos that show Autopilot's failures, including one post that seems to show a Tesla steering the vehicle into the path of a train. The Tesla driver jerked the steering wheel and was fortunate to avert a head-on collision with the train.
It's difficult to determine how many Autopilot failures have occurred to date. However, the NHTSA is currently investigating several fatal accidents with Autopilot engaged. The NHTSA also ordered auto manufacturers to report all serious accidents involving automated and semiautomated technology, but those reports have not been released to the public.
Self-driving car companies such as Argo, Cruise, Waymo, and Zoox are over-the-air software capable. The technology allows the company to receive real-time accident reporting. Tesla invented over-the-air software for motor vehicles. Carmakers who do not have over-the-air software technology have to rely on public communications and reports with drivers and auto service centers to determine whether an NHTSA report would be required.
Accurate accident statistics concerning automated car crashes are not publicly available and may not even exist since law enforcement officers usually write up all crash reports, and they rely on drivers' statements. Amber Davis, a spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol, stated that the law enforcement agency is not an expert on obtaining that type of data.
The NHTSA requires accident reports for fully or partly automated vehicles when someone has been injured, an airbag was deployed, or a vehicle is towed away due to the severity of an accident.
The following eight excerpts are from the accident reports being investigated by the NHTSA. These accident has Autopilot engaged:
- Houston, TX - A Model 3 moving at 35 mph "when suddenly the car jumped over the curb, causing damage to the bumper, to the wheel and a flat tire." The accident may have been caused by a discolored patch in the road that gave the Autopilot the false perception of an obstacle which it tried to avoid."
- Southhampton, NY - A Model 3 moving at 60 mph smashed into a parked SUV. The Tesla drove "straight through the side of the SUV, ripping off the car mirror." The Tesla's driver claimed the Tesla "had gone crazy."
- Collettsville, NC - The car took a took turn too wide and veered off the road, causing a severe accident.
- Brea: The Tesla turned into the wrong lane while making a turn. The victim was struck by another driver in the lane next to their car.
- Troy, MO - A Tesla Model Y straightened the wheel during a turn, crossed the center line, and hit a vehicle head-on.
- Jackson, MO - A Model 3 suddenly jerked toward a semi-truck, and FSD would not turn off. The car was 11 days old.
- Hercules, CA - "Phantom Braking" led a Tesla to suddenly stop and then caused a rear-end collision.
- Dallas, TX - A Tesla driver had to fight with the car to regain control of the car and ended up striking the left median.
Critics of Full Self-Driving vehicles believe the name is deceptive and unsafe since there is no car available for sale in the U.S. that can drive itself. According to New York University professor Meredith Broussard, FSD vehicles are a fantasy. She is the author of the book "Artificial Unintelligence," which has been published by MIT Press. She also states that FSD vehicles are "a safety nightmare."
In California, auto manufacturers are banned from advertising a vehicle as "full self-driving" when it is not. The California Department of Motor Vehicles is executing a reexamination of Tesla marketing.
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