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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on December 10th, 2019 | by Johnna Crider


Senator Markey Off The Mark On Tesla Autopilot (Again)

December 10th, 2019 by  

Last month, Senator Ed Markey said that Autopilot should be disabled. Now he is saying that Autopilot is causing harm. This tweet he shared was in reference to another accident that was caused by a driver not paying attention despite the fact that Autopilot was enabled:

If one actually watches the video the Senator shared, the anchor states that the man was checking on the dog in the back seat when he ran into a police cruiser. Yes, Autopilot was enabled, but Tesla also tells drivers that they need to be ready to take over at any time. This “any time” happened while the driver was not looking directly in front of him.

Apparently, the Senator thinks this is Tesla’s own fault and states that, “This tech will continue causing harm until Tesla takes action to fix its flawed system and make sure drivers are paying attention.”

If Tesla ever finds a way to actually force people to pay attention, I truly hope that they market and sell this for a really low price. I don’t own a car and have almost been hit while crossing the street many times. People run red lights, people drive while not even looking at the street. One time, I was crossing in front of a Mercedes-Benz driver who wasn’t even looking at the road and he had accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. I was crossing and had the right of way. His car hit my hip — fortunately, it was a gentle tap. I fell on his hood, got up, and walked away.

Senator Markey, from his statement, seems to think that only people who drive Tesla vehicles are not paying attention, and that it’s Tesla’s responsibility to make them do so. This line of thinking is not only outrageous, but it places the blame on Tesla for things it is not responsible for. It is not the fault of Tesla that some drivers do not pay attention at all times. How many times a day does a non-Tesla driver cause an accident because they weren’t paying attention? Many. But there is no hype about the type of cars they are driving. In fact, Autopilot has surely saved many more lives than it has taken, but those saved lives and prevented accidents don’t make headlines.

Perhaps, instead of blaming Tesla, we should find actual solutions that would encourage more drivers to pay attention. Tesla isn’t responsible for every person who gets into one of its vehicles, and Tesla isn’t the only car company where people abuse its safety features. Volkswagen owners can easily turn their cars into “self-driving” cars by tricking the active lane assist with a bottle of water, yet we don’t hear government officials bemoaning Volkswagen over these nag hacks.

In the third quarter of 2019, Tesla registered one accident for every 4.34 million miles driven when drivers had Autopilot engaged. In other words, for every 4.34 million miles driven with Autopilot on, there was one accident.

Is Autopilot really at fault in this case above or is it the driver? Is Tesla really to blame for people misusing its tech? If so, then perhaps gunmakers should be blamed for every school shooting. Or maybe you should blame the floor if you trip and fall.

Perhaps we should ban knives and scissors until people stop getting accidentally cut by them. Sound good? Or maybe he should blame every bar, restaurant, and company that sells alcoholic beverages for every death caused by drunk driving. Logical?

When a solution is hard to find, we often look to blame others instead. It’s easier to point fingers and say, “it’s your fault,” instead of coming together for solutions. Senator Markey should stop blaming Tesla for those who drive on Autopilot and don’t pay attention. Autopilot isn’t designed for such use and that’s made clear to owners.


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About the Author

is a Baton Rouge artist, gem, and mineral collector, member of the International Gem Society, and a Tesla shareholder who believes in Elon Musk and Tesla. Elon Musk advised her in 2018 to “Believe in Good.” Tesla is one of many good things to believe in. You can find Johnna on Twitter

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