Despite Tesla’s countless cautions and warnings that there should always be someone behind the steering keeping an eye on the road, people still don’t listen and this leads to more and more cases of crashes. However, this may be the first case that was fatal. Two men were killed when this Tesla crashed into a tree while no one was in the driving seat.
The crash happened on Sunday around 9 pm in Spring, Texas. The crashed with the tree caused a fire which kept reigniting due to the car’s battery. According to the authorities, there two men in the car. One in the front and one in the back however no one was in the driver’s seat. First responders had to use over 30,000 gallons of water just to put out the fire and it took them over four hours.
During this time, the authorities also asked Tesla for advice though it isn’t clear if they responded or not. The initial reports suggested that the car was traveling at a high speed while the autopilot system missed a turn which led the car bumper first into a tree. According to Constable Mark Herman of the Harris County Precinct 4, there was no one driving and it is unclear if the car was even in autopilot mode or not.
Instead of ramping up the sensors in their cars or even adding more to the steering wheel. Tesla CEO Elon Musk instead blames the drivers for their complacency and getting used to the autopilot and expecting more from it. During a call to his investors back in 2018, he said that “When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency. They just get too used to it. That tends to be more of an issue. It’s not a lack of understanding of what Autopilot can do. It’s [drivers] thinking they know more about Autopilot than they do”.
This isn’t the first case where a Tesla crashed due to overreliance or misuse of the autopilot feature. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are at least 23 autopilot-related crashes under investigation. The electrical vehicle’s battery doesn’t help as well as it keeps on reigniting fire making it hard for firefighters to put it out quickly.
Either the people wise up or Tesla has to up their sensor game because I don’t think the crash cases are going to stop coming any time soon.