I have seen several news articles in the past few hours that not only disregarded what Elon Musk tweeted about the tragic crash in a Tesla in Woodlands, TX, but pointed the finger at Tesla for something that Tesla is not responsible for. Anyone who buys a Tesla and adds FSD to their purchase sees this page:
Following the bullet list, the first line in the description is as follows: “The currently enable features require active driver supervision.”
This means that the driver is responsible for their actions and needs to watch what they are doing on the roads. How hard is this to understand? I don’t even have a license yet, but even I understand this. The headlines that are coming out about this story would have you think that Tesla is making exploding cars and killing people.
Instead of immediately blaming Tesla, we should wait for the investigation to finish and let the authorities determine the actual causes of accidents. In the case of the recent crash in Texas, the media should be wondering what happened to the driver instead of whether or not Tesla caused the accident.
What Happened To The Driver Of The Tesla Involved In The Texas Crash?
This is the question that all parties should be trying to figure out. Any investigative journalist who truly cares about this case would want to know what happened to the driver and what caused the crash? Instead, many outlets have started jumping to conclusions while pointing the finger at Tesla.
The one thing we do know is that we don’t know what happened. And as Jennifer Sensiba said in her CleanTechnica piece, we may never know for sure what happened right before the crash. All we know is that two men died and police believed that there wasn’t a driver. Elon Musk said Autopilot was not on at the time of the crash and that the vehicle didn’t have the FSD Beta upgrade. There have been no changes to the Autopilot features in their car for months.
Jennifer also went over other scenarios in her article. You can read about them here. But remember, these are ideas on what could have happened, not evidence of what actually happened. I want to stress this because the truth is that the authorities — both federal and local — are still investigating and this investigation is likely to continue and may never get to the bottom of things anyway. However, if certain media outlets and critics want to cash in on sensational Tesla news, they can’t afford to wait until the investigation is completed before reporting what actually happened. So, without the facts (or even basic perspective on how Autopilot works), they jumped to blaming Tesla for something that it’s not responsible for.
How do they deal with the corrections and the fact that many Tesla owners and supporters are upset that Tesla is again being misrepresented and illogically blamed? Well, some news outlets are calling Tesla owners conspiracy theorists for calling out those in the media who refuse to do any research or use journalistic ethics in their reporting. One article said that Tesla owners were “engaging in the classic behavior of conspiracy theorists and amateur internet sleuths in an apparent attempt to cast doubt on even the most basic facts surrounding the crash” — but who is not waiting on the two federal authorities investigating the crash to publish their findings before blaming Tesla?
While criticizing Tesla owners, many of these outlets are publishing conspiracy type of pieces that blame “robocars” for the actions of humans while ignoring the fact that auto accidents are the 8th leading cause of deaths worldwide. How many of the other accidents do they cover? And do they always assume it was an automaker/technological/mechanical fault?
Car Crashes Are The 8th Leading Cause Of Death In The World
The Centers for Disease Control note that car crashes are the 8th leading cause of death in the world. Every day, 3,700 people are killed globally in crashes. That’s daily. Tesla is trying to solve this with its increasingly autonomous driving technology, yet instead of supporting Tesla, many rush to vilify the company over the actions of those who should be held accountable.
Drinking & Driving Stats
Just last month, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism updated its latest statistics. Here are some of those statistics to consider in terms of drinking and driving:
- The rate of all alcohol-related ED visits increased 47 percent between 2006 and 2014, which translates to an average annual increase of 210,000 alcohol-related ED visits.
- Alcohol contributes to about 18.5 percent of ED visits and 22.1 percent of overdose deaths related to prescription opioids.
- An estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually,15 making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.
- Between 2011 and 2015, the leading causes of alcohol-attributable deaths due to chronic conditions in the United States were alcohol-associated liver disease, heart disease and stroke, unspecified liver cirrhosis, upper aerodigestive tract cancers, liver cancer, supraventricular cardiac dysrhythmia, AUD, breast cancer, and hypertension.
- In 2015, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 10,265 deaths (29.0 percent of overall driving fatalities).
Is it more likely Tesla Autopilot was somehow magically on and somehow did something it’s never done before? Or is it more likely that this middle-of-the-night weekend accident near the driver’s home was caused by something more common?
Some In The Media Are Enabling Reckless Driving By Redirecting The Blame Onto Tesla
I don’t mean all media here. I mean those who push out articles and headlines blaming Tesla without any type of evidence. Elon Musk has already said that Autopilot was not engaged and that the owner of that vehicle didn’t purchase FSD. The police and federal agencies are investigating the crash, but instead of waiting on data or assuming something happened that happens every day (many times a day), many media outlets are publishing hit pieces on Tesla blaming Autopilot and Tesla’s goal of creating robotaxis — which everyone, especially Tesla owners, are not here yet.
By redirecting the blame to Tesla, these writers are essentially saying “poor you” to the drivers who chose not to watch what they were doing on the road, or who even chose to do something dangerous. It’s that simple. However, if you are going to get behind the wheel and make adult decisions, you need to be held accountable for those decisions when you make mistakes.
If I was to spill my coffee, would it be the fault of the coffee mug, the coffee, or the brand? Should I sue Starbucks? Yeah, let’s blame Starbucks for my clumsiness.
What happened in Texas was tragic, and we still don’t know what happened to the driver that caused this. The driver could have had a heart attack. Or the driver could have been intoxicated. We do not know.
However, sensationalizing that accident and using those deaths to blame Tesla for something that was out of the company’s control is not helping those mourning the loss of their loved ones.
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