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Preventable accidents mar Tesla’s self-driving efforts


The launching of Tesla came with it cutting-edge technology that would make a vehicle’s operation easier and safer. However, as consumers travel the roads with Elon Mush-inspired vehicles, the bumps on the veritable road continue, particularly when it comes to the growingly infamous Autopilot.

Derek Monet discovered the defect when it was too late. As he and his wife were “self-driving,” their Tesla Model 3 collided with a stationary fire truck. Monet suffered a broken spine and femur. Tragically, his wife died in the collision.

Uncovering a problematic statistic

Tragically, the couple was unaware of a statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, citing 11 similar incidents where the vehicle’s software failed to stop when approaching emergency vehicles with flashing lights. Tesla’s knowledge of the problem can be measured not in days or months but in years.

The NHTSA ordered an investigation in August of last year. Their digging uncovered Tesla’s knowledge of the problems and the use of non-disclosure agreements for customers testing “full-test driving. Instead of recalling the cars, the manufacturer provided software updates for drivers to avoid accidents involving stationary objects.

The complaint also quotes Musk and other executives and provides passages from their marketing materials. The mixed messaging combines product hype with an awareness that Tesla vehicles are nowhere near where they need to be for safe autonomous driving.

Monet’s lawsuit is one of six other product defect legal actions where serious accidents occurred. Even more troubling, the other five claim that Tesla vehicles would, without warning, suddenly accelerate on their own.

Tesla’s consumer confidence continues to decline with every account of a Tesla accident caused not by a negligent driver but by deadly defects in their vehicles. The company’s continuing work-in-progress approach remains a problem searching for a solution.