Lessons from the Tesla Crash

Tesla Crash Raises Technology Regulation Requirement

Vehicle technology continues to evolve but in the case of a recent fatal crash in Florida, Tesla’s Model S is an example of how technology could make cars more dangerous. We can’t blame Tesla but with better testing and regulations, the risks of associated with technology can be minimized.

In the May crash involving the Tesla Model S and a tractor-trailer, Tesla has confirmed that its Autopilot technology did not detect a white tractor-trailer against the bright sky as it turned in front of the vehicle. The driver of the Tesla, who died in the collision, did not activate the brakes, and it has been reported that he was distracted while watching a movie.

Unfortunately, most drivers cause collisions. Driverless vehicles could assist in reducing crashes, but the technology is years away from being perfected, case in point, the Tesla crash. Tesla’s vehicles are not considered to be self-driving, but the Autopilot technology can assist drivers in many situations. The technology can keep a car in a lane, adjust a vehicle’s speed to keep up with traffic and brake to avoid a collision. Tesla’s audio and visual alerts also warn drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and monitor eye movement to ensure drivers maintain their eyes on the road. If drivers ignore the warnings, a secondary program will slow the vehicle to a stop.

Tesla Autopilot Technology

Unfortunately, drivers don’t seem to understand the limitations of Tesla’s technology and their actions are being recorded on social channels such as YouTube. Some drivers have recorded their reckless behaviour including driving while in the back seat of their vehicle. Such conduct in Tesla’s will only lead to more collisions as the car’s technology is not designed to be self-driving at this time.

Governing bodies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States needs to become more involved in the regulation of technology as more and more vehicles become equipped with advanced systems. Minimum standards and test protocols for vehicle technology will be outlined to vehicle manufacturers within the next few months. Federal regulators should apply the lessons that were learned from one of the most significant safety initiatives, the airbag. When initially installed, it quickly became apparent that the safety device could have deadly force when it came to women and children. New rules were set out to reduce the strength of deployment of the airbag and prevented the device from not inflating at low-speed crashes.

Regulators are behind when it comes to regulations for vehicles with driver assist and driverless cars. As the technology evolves, management will need to grow just as fast. Technology should save lives, but as shown, technology is not the solution to everyday driving habits such as distracted driving. No vehicle technology is risk-free. Drivers need to take responsibility for the actions behind the wheel!