Some Thoughts on the Tesla Crash In Texas & Comparison of Autopilot with 2020 Vehicle Crash Data

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Something horrible happened this weekend, Two men died as a result of someone misusing a Tesla. The Wall Street Journal reported that the authorities thought the vehicle was driving without anyone in the drivers seat. This led to a huge uproar and the resurfacing of old, baseless myths about Tesla Autopilot along with more general hatred of Elon Musk by some who are easily manipulated by political marketing tactics.

I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic along with some statistics of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle fires and compare them with Tesla’s updated Vehicle Safety Report that was recently released. The media, generally speaking here, often fuels the fire of any event when it rushes to sensationalize a story. Sadly, the families of those whose lives were lost will be forgotten when the next sensational headline appears, yet their loved ones’ loss will be as tragic as ever — pretty much for the rest of their own lives. With this in mind, I want to share my reflections in a manner that is as painless as possible for them while pointing out what I think is obvious but too often ignored.

In a response to the WSJ, Twitter user Ahmad A. Dalhat shared that this didn’t make sense. Ahmad pointed out that Tesla has safety measures in place that include a way to make sure the driver’s remain on the steering wheel (every 10 seconds, if not there, Autopilot will disengage). Autopilot also does not go over the speed limit (more than 5 mph). Tesla CEO Elon Musk replied with a few details about the incident as well.

Elon shared that data logs recovered so far show that Autopilot was not even enabled. And this particular customer didn’t purchase FSD. So neither Autopilot nor FSD were involved.

Elon also noted what many Tesla owners said, that standard Autopilot requires lane lines to turn on and this street didn’t have those. That aside, I want to get to the core issue here, which Twitter user @TeslaHunterX shared.

This is the double standard that is often most hyped up. While disregarding countless accidents involving drunk drivers, drivers asleep at the wheel, and drivers who are just not paying attention for whatever reason, critics zero in on Tesla. They disregard the thousands upon thousands of lives lost in these other non-Tesla accidents and focus on Tesla and “how bad it is.” And in their rush to report about what a horrible company Tesla is, they completely disregard the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

They don’t seek the truth to report it. Instead, they use the victims and half-truths to share why they think Tesla is bad. They don’t minimize harm, but instead use the pain of those whose lives are affected by these incidents to cash in on clickbait reporting.

Not all journalists and members of the media have hatred for Elon or Tesla or operate in this manner. There are many great ones out there who I admire and respect. But I feel that this needs to be addressed because this type of reporting is harmful. What if it wasn’t Tesla but something in regards to national security? What if a rumor got started that President Biden wanted to go to war with Russia and they all started reporting this without any evidence whatsoever? I don’t think that would happen, but if you apply the way reporting is done on Tesla to other areas, lives could be lost. Furthermore, lives can be lost with this obsession on Tesla.

Tesla’s Vehicle Safety Report: Tesla Accidents vs. ICE Vehicle Accidents

Tesla just released its accident data for Q1 2021. Below is a quick recap.

  • 1 accident for every 4.19 million miles driven with Autopilot engaged.
  • 1 accident for ever 2.05 million miles driven without Autopilot engaged but with Tesla’s active safety features.
  • 1 accident for every 978,000 miles driven without either Autopilot or Tesla’s active safety features.

Tesla noted that the NHTSA’s most recent data showed that in the U.S. there’s an accident every 484,000 miles.

Now let’s look at some facts concerning ICE vehicle accidents and accidents in general.

Just last month, NPR reported that although driving was down in 2020, traffic fatality rates surged.

The National Safety Council (NSC) said that deaths from motor vehicles rose 8% in 2020, with as many as 42,060 people dying in vehicle crashes. Compare those numbers with the number of miles driven, the rate of fatalities rose 24%, which is the highest spike in nearly a century. 

If you look over Tesla’s accident data over the course of 2020, you can see it’s pretty consistent until the final quarter, which includes the holiday traveling season as well as more ice and snow.

Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged are safer than vehicles without Autopilot. So rushing to blame Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD for something when you have no information at all shows a lack of ethics and dedication to truth, in my opinion.


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