AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: CRASHING INTO CONNECTICUT

In the last two years I have written several blogs on the safety risks inherent in autonomous vehicles:

The Future is Here

Technology with Risks

Safety at Risk

The common thread reveals technological advances that carry with them inherent safety risks. These risks, whether caused by inadequate safety risk assessments or failure of the vehicle operator to remain attentive at all times, are contributing to motor vehicle collisions throughout the country. Recently, Connecticut joined the publicity garnered by these crashes when a Tesla Model 3 struck the rear of a stopped Connecticut State Police cruiser. According to news reports, the trooper was stopped on Interstate 95 in Norwalk, responding to a disabled vehicle when the Tesla Model 3 struck the rear of the cruiser, causing significant damage. The Tesla then continued on its path and struck the disabled vehicle.

Published reports indicate that at the time of the crash, the operator of the Tesla was checking on his dog in the back seat while the vehicle continued on “autopilot”. Autonomous vehicle technology and the vehicle instructions require the vehicle driver to maintain control at all times, including while the “autopilot” is engaged. According to a recent New York Post article, however, drivers can fool the system with tricks in order to keep the system engaged, and reported an incident where “one Massachusetts man slept while his Tesla cruised for about 14 miles” and another where “a porn actress posted a video of her and her boyfriend getting down and dirty in an autopiloted Tesla.” [ New York Post: Tesla on "autopilot" slams into Connecticut police cruiser ]

Autonomous vehicle technology remains in its infant stages, but continues to outpace safety regulations. The race to profit from the technology appears to be causing reckless behavior by major corporations’ intent on being the first to reach the finish line, regardless of the risks. When mixed with inattentive drivers, the inherent risk of this yet unperfected technology is creating a recipe for disaster.

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