Recently a Tesla Model X SUV crashed and the life of an Apple engineer named Walter Huang was lost. This crash has led to an investigation by the NTSB and legal action by the Huang family and it seems that both are aimed at blaming Tesla for the crash. The tragedy is that a man lost his life and if he was relying on the Autopilot system to handle the drive for him that was certainly his mistake but the investigation has been decidedly negative for Tesla, which caused them to issue a statement that has cost them the ability to be part of the investigation.
Unfortunately, the question of responsibility for this crash does need to be determined as Tesla continues to claim the crash was due to driver error. Recently, Consumers Union, which is an advocacy division of Consumer Reports, released a statement demanding that Tesla move to improve the safety of the Autopilot system. This seems to be a demand that’s supportive of the claims that have been made that state Tesla needs to chance their driver-assistance system and be an innovative company without putting the lives of their consumers at risk.
Autopilot – Who’s Right, the NTSB or Tesla?
While you might think it was prudent for Tesla to be cooperative with the NTSB and aid and be privy to the investigation and its findings, the leaders at Tesla apparently felt the investigation going the wrong way for them. This caused them to release a statement to defend their systems and their position in the market regarding this Autopilot system. The statement made is scathing and speaks to the fact that Tesla intends to make an official complaint to Congress along with a request with regards to the Freedom of Information Act.
While the courts and Congress can sort this out at some point down the road, the question is whether or not a Tesla vehicle equipped with Autopilot is safer than other vehicles. The Model S and Model X certainly have scored high in every category when being tested by the NHTSA, and the numbers show that Tesla models drive for many more miles with fewer fatalities, there are also fewer of these cars on the road than the average and those that drive them are often older and more experienced than the average driver. Does this mean the numbers offered by Tesla are skewed?
The one thing we can certainly take away from this dispute and what’s going on with Tesla is the fact that being in the spotlight, as Tesla finds itself more often than desired, is going to cause the company to be scrutinized more heavily than other automakers. We’ll learn more in the coming months, but the responsibility for the accident that claimed a life cannot bring the man back and regardless of the systems being used in your vehicle, it’s important that you stay alert and keep your hands on the wheel to help avoid accidents on the road.