More crash deaths linked to Teslas in US
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new crash statistics on self-driving cars this week. According to the data, Elon Musk’s Teslas were involved in at least ten deadly accidents between mid-May and mid-September.
The fatalities included four crashes involving Teslas and motorcycles. The datasheet, however, does not indicate whether the driver-assist systems of the Teslas were on during the accidents or if the vehicles were piloted by their human drivers.
The database also listed an 11th death, said to involve a Ford pickup truck fitted with a driver-assist system. The carmaker, however, told local media that the accident was reported erroneously, and it was later determined that the pickup was not equipped with a driver-assist mechanism.
The new figures suggest a sharp increase in deadly incidents involving self-driving cars. Data collected from July of last year through May 15, released by the agency in June, involved only six lethal crashes, with a further five accidents that resulted in serious injuries. Five of the deaths occurred in Teslas and one in a Ford, with the driver-assist systems in use at the time of all the crashes listed.
The apparent increase in fatal crashes involving automated-driving vehicles has already been condemned by driving safety advocates, who urged the NHTSA to take action against Tesla. The deaths of motorcyclists are particularly concerning, the head of the Center for Auto Safety nonprofit, Michael Brooks, said.
“I think there’s a pretty clear pattern of bad behavior on the part of Tesla when it comes to obeying the edicts of the [federal] safety act, and NHTSA is just sitting there,” Brooks told AP. “How many more deaths do we need to see of motorcyclists?”
Nevertheless, automated-driving vehicles only account for a tiny fraction of road deaths across the US. Last year, nearly 43,000 people were killed on American roads, the highest recorded in 16 years. The increase in deaths came as more drivers took to the roads as the Covid-19 pandemic waned.