Elon Musk took to Twitter to respond to the recent news of a Tesla crashing into a parked car in California. The CEO shared a link to a search for “automotive deaths per year worldwide” while captioning it, “Just for perspective”. When the link is clicked, a page opens that states “According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.25 million deaths worldwide in the year 2010. That is, one person, is killed every 25 seconds.”
Other links include one from Allianz which states that traffic accidents are the number one cause of worldwide deaths among youth and a World Economic Forum link with the countries having most and least traffic deaths. The overall message seems to be that traffic accidents have been happening before the introduction of Tesla’s Autopilot software. This message is in accordance with Musk’s previous statements. While discussing the first Autopilot crash in Utah, Musk said, “it’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage.”
Mostly his followers seem to agree with him. Some posted stories of accidents which they said could have been avoided if a Tesla was there. While other complained that media is using its tactics. Twitter users also called the media “witch hunters” and requested that they should stop attacking Musk and Tesla. People seemed to be convinced that Autopilot can save lives.
Some people were on the other side of the argument as well. They said that it will be better if the autopilot cars are kept off the roads until more research is done on them. However, the overall response seemed to be in the favor of Musk. Two US rights groups sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission demanding that they investigate Tesla over the marketing of their Autopilot software. The groups said that the name “Autopilot” is deceptive and misleading. Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog said in the letter, “The marketing and advertising practices of Tesla, combined with Elon Musk’s public statements, have made it reasonable for Tesla owners to believe, and act on that belief, that a Tesla with Autopilot is an autonomous vehicle capable of ‘self-driving.”