Fatal Tesla Model X Autopilot Crash: What We Can Learn

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A few weeks ago, a Tesla Model X crashed into an exit-ramp barrier on the 101 near Mountain View, California. The impact, made worse by a lack of functioning crash attenuator on the barrier, completely destroyed the front of the Model X and caused the battery pack to catch fire. The driver, while still alive immediately after the crash, died of his injuries.

While plenty of automotive accidents occur across the world on a daily basis resulting in both severe injury and death to occupants, the Model X crash has hit the headlines partly because it involved a Tesla electric car and partly because it was disclosed by Tesla that autopilot had been engaged at the time of the collision.

But with Tesla stating the driver ignored warnings to place his hands on the steering wheel prior to the accident — and partly laying the blame at CalTrans (which had not replaced the crash attenuator immediately following an accident earlier that week)  — there’s been something of a blame game going on as to who is ultimately responsible.

While we’ll not know the official cause of the crash until the NTSB investigation into the crash has been completed, it is worth taking time out to ask, given what we know, what we can all learn from this terrible crash — and how we can work together to make sure it doesn’t happen again.


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