Tesla EV running on Autopilot without driver involved in a fatal car crash in Houston
Tesla Motors has one of the most advanced autopilot system in its electric cars and there have been very few mishaps. However, misuse of Tesla Autopilot system led to a fatal car crash in Houston, which resulted in two deaths, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department confirmed.
Tesla Autopilot is a suite of advanced driver-assistance system that offers automatic features like lane centering, traffic-aware cruise control, automatic lane changes, and semi-autonomous navigation on limited access freeways, self-parking, and the ability to summon the vehicle from a garage or parking spot. While the software claims to be autonomous, it requires a human to be always ready to take control of the vehicle.
In the fatal crash in Houston, nobody was in the driver’s seat. It means, the occupants of the Tesla electric car left the vehicle in the hands of Autopilot, and tried to enjoy the drive sitting in the rear seats. According to police investigators, the crash marked the first fatalities as a result of a Tesla driver teasingly getting into the backseat.
The deadly crash occurred at around 11:25 p.m. last Saturday near The Woodlands, Houston - the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas,
According to a preliminary report by local police, the Tesla car was traveling at a high speed with no driver behind the steering wheel. It missed a turn, hit a tree, and quickly caught in flames. When the two occupants were dragged out, they were dead. One of the two victims was in the front passenger seat, while the other was in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told reporters that the crashed vehicle was a fully-electric 2019 Tesla EV, which was sold with a Full Self-Driving (FSD) package, but it is currently not equipped with fully self-driving capabilities.
A member of the victim’s family told reports that the victim jumped into the backseat of the vehicle shortly after withdrawing of the driveway to go for a ride with his best friend.
It is illegal to operate a vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public. Moreover, Tesla requires drivers to remain attentive behind the steering wheel even while using Autopilot. In other words, drivers aren’t supposed to get out of the driver’s seat even while using Autopilot. Despite those rules, some careless people feel proud in popularizing the dangerous practice on social media. Earlier this year, a TikTok star shared a video of him sleeping in the rear seat while leaving his Tesla Model 3 EV on Autopilot.
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