This past weekend two children ages 8 and 13 were killed while in their seatbelts when a Tesla Model S rear ended their family’s Toyota Corolla. At least one adult was also killed. Two others in the struck vehicle were badly burned. What makes this tragedy newsworthy is that the accident might not have been fatal if the Tesla had come with forward crash prevention technology available on many family cars. Tesla does not offer this safety system, nor does it offer many other commonplace vehicle safety systems.
Tesla Doesn’t Have These Safety Systems
For reasons unknown, Tesla does not use any form of forward crash prevention technology. Price and cost are not factors. The best system of this type tested by the Insurance Institute for Highways Safety (IIHS) is not on an expensive sport-luxury car like the $70K to $130K Tesla, but rather on the very affordable Subaru Outback. IIHS considers the system so important it won’t even consider vehicles without it for their highest safety rating, the Top Safety Pick Plus designation. Thus the Tesla could not even qualify. Many cars costing a third the price of the Model S have earned this rating.
How Forward Crash Prevention Systems Save Lives
Forward crash prevention systems don’t always have to stop a vehicle from hitting another to help. In fact, some are not even designed to entirely prevent an impact. Rather, they are designed to slow the approaching car to lessen the severity of the impact. This allows the cars in the accident to use their passive safety systems, such as crumple zones and seat belts, to full effect.
This Type of Tesla Crash Was Predicted
This report is not a “20-20 hindsight” report. We predicted this might happen. Over the past year Torque News has published multiple stories about the Tesla Model S’ lack of a forward collision prevention system, lack of a lane keeping system, and lack of a driver alert system. The LA Times also raised the issue of Tesla’s lack of crash mitigation technology in the past. In a related story just one month ago, we detailed how aluminum vehicles combined with forward crash prevention technology might save your life in a crash. We carefully explained why the velocity of a vehicle hitting another is much more important that its mass (weight). In a positive way we dove deep into the issue, using the new 2015 Ford F-150 as the example.
Tesla Markets Its Model S as the Safest Car
We wish to point out that Tesla markets the Model S as the world’s safest car. In the past it has highlighted this on its website. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and leader, has said that cars can be as safe as the Model S, but not safer. It is true that the Model S does protect its occupants very well. Although it has never been tested by the IIHS, which conducts the US’ most rigorous safety evaluations, it has done very well in the US government’s (NHTSA) testing.
Is keeping the occupant in the Tesla alive the only concern? Of course it is not. In fact, besides the three dead, the two critically injured people in this crash, and their families, the driver of the Model S may be the person who will now suffer the greatest from this possibly preventable tragedy. Police and news reports say that all the people in the Corolla were properly belted. They go on to say that the driver in the Tesla is not suspected of being impaired.
This story, including the issue of safety systems, is not being reported by the mainstream media. Disappointingly, the electric vehicle advocacy media is also ignoring the Tesla safety systems issue, and they do understand it. Some EV fans will read this report and call it more Tesla bashing. Hopefully, some others will read this viewpoint and start asking why a car that costs so much, which is marketed as the safest car available, does so little to prevent avoidable accidents like this one.
Note: In order to keep this story focused on the topic of forward crash prevention and driver alert systems we have opted not to delve into the gruesome details of the crash. Those interested can read the local news report here. We wish to warn you the story is upsetting.
Still Image and video courtesy of Loudlabs News, and Youtube.com