As in every Tesla tragedy or SNAFU, it's always the other guy's fault. In the latest example of a Tesla vehicle killing one of its customers while the vehicle was operating in Autopilot mode, Tesla says the driver of a Model X luxury minivan and the roadway are the real problems, not that its vehicles drive straight into stationary objects without slowing.
In the most recent crash, a Model X driven by an Apple employee, father, and Tesla early adopter, drove straight into a stationary barrier in the highway while operating on Autopilot. The crash has many similar elements to the crash in 2016 that killed a former U.S. special forces operator Joshua Brown. In that crash, the speeding Tesla Model S luxury sedan drove straight into the side of a slow-moving semi trailer that was turning ahead of it at a legal intersection. Mr. Brown was killed instantly. The NTSB later determined that Tesla bore a significant part of the blame.
The driver in the most recent fatal Tesla autopilot crash is being blamed by Tesla for not having had his hands on the wheel often enough prior to the accident. Autopilot can operate a Tesla without ensuring that the driver is attentive, and even lets the car operate at high speeds when the driver is not touching the steering wheel. Tesla's imaginary safety backup in that situation is that the driver will grab back control if something dangerous is about to happen. Let's face it, if a former U.S. special forces soldier can't do that, neither can you or I.
The roadway in California where the driver was killed had a barrier that separated lanes. There was a collapsable impact safety barrier in that location, but another car had recently crashed there and compressed it.
The publication Bloomberg-Quint reports that the NTSB is unhappy with Tesla's release of information about the crash to the public, which is clearly aimed at managing the narrative.
This crash comes the very same month that an Uber autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.
Please take a minute to participate in our poll: Are self-driving and autonomous vehicles safe?