Tesla Driver Blames Autopilot for Fire Truck Collision
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One of the key features of Tesla's vehicles is the Autopilot, which offers advanced driving assistance in the form of lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and self parking. It also seems to be a good excuse when it comes to assigning blame for an accident.
As CNBC reports, on Monday a Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a fire truck located on a freeway near to Culver City, Calif. The fire truck was attending another accident involving a motorbike when the Model S crashed into it. Luckily, no firefighters were standing at the back of the truck at the time. In fact, there were no injuries caused, just damage to the truck and the Model S.
While working a freeway accident this morning, Engine 42 was struck by a #Tesla traveling at 65 mph. The driver reports the vehicle was on autopilot. Amazingly there were no injuries! Please stay alert while driving! #abc7eyewitness #ktla #CulverCity #distracteddriving pic.twitter.com/RgEmd43tNe-- Culver City Firefighters (@CC_Firefighters) January 22, 2018
The driver of the Tesla is blaming Autopilot for the collision, which was apparently in use at the time. However, Tesla has already pointed out that Autopilot still requires the driver be fully attentive and have their hands on the wheel. With that being the case, the driver should have been able to take avoiding action or apply the brakes in time to avoid the crash. For some reason that didn't happen.
The National Traffic Safety Board will now examine exactly what happened and look at the data the Model S collected leading up to the crash. A fatal crash which occurred in Florida in 2016 also resulted in a review of the Autopilot system. No defects were found. If this new investigation comes to the same conclusion, then it was clearly driver error.
I'd be very surprised if this turned out to be an Autopilot fault due to the limited driving assistance it offers. The driver really does need to be distracted to not see what's going to happen. If anything, this shows the difficulty with trying to slowly transition towards self-driving cars. Really we need a complete switch from driving to self-driving very quickly, so a distracted driver no longer matters.