I was asked by a friend in the Tesla community to look into a Twitter thread by Austin Fire Info. The thread shared details of an accident involving a Tesla. The account tweeted that a Tesla was involved in a collision and that the fire extended to the awning of a gas station. A quick Google search revealed more info, including the cause of the fire. Hint: it was initially a fuel fire, not a Tesla battery fire.
2600 Exposition, Tesla involved in collision with fire extending to awning of gas station. Fire under control. Crews working cool burning batteries. pic.twitter.com/2etyUkN3vb
— Austin Fire Info (@AustinFireInfo) August 12, 2021
NBC DFW reported that the driver of the vehicle was a juvenile and intoxicated. He crashed his Tesla Model X into a traffic light pole at the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Westover Road before crashing into a gas pump. The address that Austin Fire tweeted was off by a tiny bit as well — the Shell gas station is at 2701 Exposition Boulevard.
According to the Austin Police Department, the vehicle burst into flames after the crash and no one was harmed. The teenager was able to escape from the car and was outside of the car when the police and fire department arrived. The police also said that there were no injuries reported.
If this had been a fossil fuel vehicle, that child probably would have died or been severely injured. The fact that someone is able to drive the car, crash it into a gas station, have it explode as a result, and walk away from that unscathed is a miracle. The kid may have had some degree of whiplash, but the police said no one was injured.
Drinking & Driving Kills
Thanks to this child being in one of the world’s safest cars, he didn’t become a statistic. There was another case in Norway where the driver of a Tesla decided to drink alcohol as well. He passed out and the vehicle, which had Autopilot enabled, safely pulled over. I bring this up because, in that particular piece, I shared some statistics on drinking and driving.
In 2019, The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) indicated that every day, around 28 people in the U.S. alone die in drunk-driving crashes. This is one person every 52 minutes. The situation may be worse now. The NHTSA estimated that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, an increase in overall fatalities from 2019. The final file for 2019 and 2020 should be available late fall of 2021.
In both the Norwegian case and the more recent case in Texas, it seems that the vehicles saved these drunk drivers’ lives. In the case in Norway, the driver had actually passed out. The Tesla noticed that the driver was not responding to prompts to hold the steering wheel and pulled itself over. If the person had been in another type of car that doesn’t respond like this, there’s a decent chance they would have had a horrible crash and died and/or killed someone. In the accident in Texas, clearly, a bad crash was not avoided, but the Model X was so good at protecting the driver, thanks to Tesla’s safety-first design philosophy, that he had no apparent injuries afterward. We can’t know what would have happened in a competing fossil-fuel vehicle, but it seems that things couldn’t have gone any better (after the crash was inevitable).