Driver Error Or Poor Technology?

Tesla continues to garner media attention, but not the type of coverage that sells cars. During a four-month span of time – May through September of this year – ten people lost their lives in accidents in vehicles linked with automated technology. According to recently released government data, all were vehicles manufactured by Tesla.

Four of the ten involved motorcycle deaths, representing an alarming trend that continues to increase.

Tesla has over 830,000 vehicles with proprietary systems on roads throughout the United States. The NHTSA mandates reporting all crashes involving self-driving vehicles in addition to vehicles with the driver-assist system that takes over the car’s operation. Yet, deadly distractions continue at an alarming rate, with countless drivers seemingly ignoring warnings coming from their vehicles.

A history of fatalities

NHTSA had previously released data from July 2021 through mid-May that uncovered six people perishing in collisions in cars with automated systems. Five suffered serious injuries. What remains unknown is whether the issues were driver errors or the company’s technology. In all cases, the ADAS systems were in use.

According to the Center for Auto Safety, these problems can be traced back to 2016. Most of the severe injuries and deaths are suffered by victims of the Tesla technology.

Troubling data

A second NHTSA investigation focuses on Autopilot issues that involve multiple collisions in 2018 where Teslas collided with emergency vehicles parked along roads with their lights flashing. The severity of the problem is getting closer to being upgraded as an outright recall.

While considered smaller than the overall number of traffic-related deaths, the stats for automated vehicles are alarming. Last year saw 43,000 road fatalities, representing the highest number in sixteen years. Many cite the pandemic easing where drivers were operating vehicles recklessly, many with narcotics or alcohol in their system.