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Tesla CEO finds fault not with accidents but news coverage

Due to the recent wave of accidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles, some New Jersey residents may believe that the technology that Tesla specializes in is far from safe. One recent accident in Utah involved a Tesla Model S that was engaged in Autopilot. However, the driver collided with a fire truck because she was looking down at her phone.

The media coverage in the wake of the accident prompted comments from the Tesla CEO and supporters. They expressed amazement that a relatively minor accident (the driver survived with a broken ankle) would become front-page news when hundreds of people are dying each day in other more serious crashes.

The CEO also drew attention to the fact that crashing into a fire truck at 60 mph normally results in severe injuries or death. While this is true, analysts say that his comments miss the point; the accident has received wide coverage not because of its severity but because of the technology involved.

Autopilot is known to make drivers complacent; even Tesla has repeatedly warned drivers about this. Since the technology is also a work in progress, analysts say it has been insufficiently backed by testing in real-world or simulated settings. These are the issues that Tesla must address, lest it be seen as wanting to avoid scrutiny.

It should be noted that semi-autonomous vehicle technology does not make drivers less responsible for their actions behind the wheel. When they get into car accidents, they could be held liable for any damages incurred by the other party. A victim may want to have their case evaluated by a lawyer. Legal counsel could gather police reports, eyewitness accounts and other proof to bolster a case.

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