Federal Investigators Look Into Recent Tesla Crash
Driverless cars have the promise of reducing traffic accidents and electric cars have the promise of reduced fossil fuel usage. However, there are still serious issues with both ideas as a recent crash shows. Here’s what happened according to the Dallas Morning News.
The crash involved a Tesla, an electric vehicle with state-of-the-art self-driving technology. Last Saturday, a 2019 Tesla Model S ran off a suburban parkway and struck a tree. The impact caused the electric batteries to catch fire and burn the two people in the car to death.
Local investigators are “100% sure” that there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash. One was in the front passenger seat and one was in the rear. Now there is a team of federal investigators coming to examine the evidence. One of the big questions is whether the car was in semi-autonomous mode, where the driver can step in at any time to adjust to road conditions, or in the newer fully autonomous mode.
When an electric car catches fire, it’s extremely difficult to put out. The underlying cause of those fires are the energy stored in the batteries. Water alone cannot put them out, and they can spontaneously reignite until all the energy is discharged. Furthermore, there are still questions about who is liable in crashes involving self-driving vehicles. If this car was in the fully autonomous mode and the owner was led to believe they were safe, that could put Tesla on the hook.