Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Two people died in a horrific Tesla inferno in Houston today, according to the city’s NBC affiliate, KPRC. Officials responding to the scene are quite confident nobody was driving – one of the deceased was in the passenger seat and the other in the back.

The car was on a quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac, and the vehicle occupants were 59 and 69 years-old, so this wasn’t a case of 20 year-olds screaming down the highway at 90 miles per hour.

Nonetheless, the most likely scenario is that the occupants were trying out Tesla AutoPilot (very much against the system’s guidelines and requirements, which specify that a driver must be in command of the vehicle at all times). The vehicle probably got confused and accelerated into a tree, although we won’t know the details for sure until a full investigation concludes.

The other issue here is that the car burst into flames so intense the fire department called Tesla, in hopes of figuring out how to douse the fire. The scale of the fire was driven by the ignition of the vehicle’s batteries, which has been a problem in previous collisions.

I am really disappointed in folks who abuse AutoPilot. While it’s tragic that vehicle occupants die, I suppose people should be able to make their own risk assessments. What’s really problematic is that pretty soon this won’t be a tree the vehicle crashes into, it will be a minivan full of kids.

I want so much for people would be responsible and not risk the lives of their neighbors and fellow citizens with these types of stunts.

The case for requiring a driver monitoring system in Teslas just gets stronger.

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