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It is not a good thing to smash your Tesla into the back of a parked fire truck on San Francisco Bay Bridge. A Tesla driver just did and was reported to be twice over the legal level for blood alcohol. His defense? The car was driving. As reported in the Vancouver Sun “according to the California Highway Patrol, the driver explained that his Tesla electric vehicle “had been set on autopilot,” obviating the need for him to be in control of the vehicle or, well, sober.”
The California Highway Patrol nixed that idea, and the driver was sent to jail. But it also brings up an interesting point~is the car the designated driver if someone is intoxicated? Wasn’t the whole idea of autopilot to give the driver the luxury of paying attention to other things besides driving? Even though cars are like dens on wheels loaded with lots of fun gadgetry, Tesla still states its autopilot system is “not fully autonomous”. You can drive fast, have a good time, but “the company instructs drivers to be alert because they are ultimately responsible for their vehicle and whatever it smacks into.”
In 2016 there was the deadly crash when a Tesla Model S and its driver failed to see a tractor-trailer turning onto a divided highway. The driver had relied on the autopilot, and in the “last 37 minutes of his drive, he had his hands on the wheel for just 25 seconds. He also ignored seven dashboard warnings and six audible warnings.” Some reports have cited that he was watching a movie at the time of the crash.
While Elon Musk has been saying that there will be no need for an instrument panel in future vehicles, Tesla crashes have been attracting interest from investigators. Autopilots were supposed to protect occupants and “even pedestrians” from crashes.
While it has not been determined whether the autopilot was on when the Tesla plowed into the fire truck at over 100 kilometers per hour, the firemen did note that the vehicle was unable to engage the autopilot after. “The car was towed, they said. “No, it didn’t drive itself to the tow yard.”
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