Tesla Safety Negligence Finally Goes to Court: “Sore Thumb” of American Roads

Quality of Tesla vehicles has been notoriously bad for years, and has been trending worse, which should be little surprise given how poorly it treats human life (from its workers and its customers to anyone in or around their product).

Now top experts in automobile safety, who finally are getting some attention, aren’t mincing words about the sad danger a Tesla poses to everyone on the road.

“Tesla sticks out like a sore thumb,” said David Friedman, who was deputy and acting administrator of NHTSA from 2013 to 2015. “And it has for years.” [Heidi King, a deputy and acting administrator of NHTSA during the Trump administration added] “I really dislike a lot of what Tesla has done, and at the top of the list in bright, bold letters, is Elon Musk’s habit of making false public claims… visionary exaggerations about a consumer product can be very, very dangerous.”

Liar, liar Elon Musk’s customers are literally dying in fires.

One of the reasons Musk has become an obvious “sore thumb” of safety is explained by his bully mindset of doing harm: to do wrongs until someone can afford to stop him in court.

“In the US, things are legal by default,” Musk said.

A public automobile company showing intent to commit crimes unless someone can catch them is the worst possible CEO statement.

“Things” are not simply legal by default.

To put it another way, in the US cannibalism is legal by default. So is Elon Musk’s next business idea going to be grinding the rising number of his dead customers into hamburger? Something technically legal DOES NOT mean you won’t be convicted of a related crime.

“We essentially have the Wild West on our roads right now,” Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the NTSB, said in an interview. She describes Tesla’s deployment of features marketed as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving as artificial-intelligence experiments using untrained operators of 5,000-pound vehicles. “It is a disaster waiting to happen.”

The Wild West killed a LOT of innocent people, especially because of men like Stanford when you think about it. I mean Silas Soule was a very notable exception who became more like the American rule but only much later.

But I digress. Tesla is not a disaster just waiting, it already happened!

Let’s play spot the disaster. Here are the death rate stats for electric cars.

Source: tesladeaths.com

I warned very loudly about the disaster we are now in for at least six years prior. My 2016 keynote presentation about Tesla death at BSidesLV was literally called “Great Disasters of Machine Learning“.

Elon Musk long ago signaled disaster as his business model and I saw it right away after the first road death was reported April 2, 2013.

Tesla was leaving Laguna Beach and veered into oncoming traffic

Veering across lines into oncoming traffic is not “legal by default” yet it seems that Tesla must believe it to be a profitable business model for America, given their vehicles have become notorious for doing exactly that.

April 8, 2022 (nearly TEN YEARS later) we see repetitive failures in safety.

Little remains of a Tesla and its driver in 2022 after it veered yet again into oncoming traffic

Things may change, however, given that a court is finally going to help Tesla owners see just how many unsafe “things are legal by default”.

A US federal judge’s ruling paves the way for a trial in July, the first time Tesla will face a jury in litigation over a car crash. The electric car-maker faces a flurry of lawsuits over a spate of accidents… Barrett Riley, 18, was at the wheel of his father’s Model S when he lost control and veered into a concrete wall of a house in Fort Lauderdale. The car was engulfed in flames. Riley and his friend in the passenger seat were both killed. The father, James Riley, alleged in a lawsuit that Tesla was negligent for removing a speed-limiting device from the car after his wife had asked for it to be installed. The after-market device was designed to cap the car’s speed at 85mph. The family also argued that Barrett could have survived the impact of the crash but lost his life because of the intense fire, which the suit attributes to a defective design in the battery.

Defaults give an interesting framing for this court case.

Why was the default top speed so far above any legal limit? The family tried to set a safe mode by requesting Tesla enable their built-in speed limiter (“loaner” mode with an 85 mph max). Allegedly Tesla later removed the setting to override parents’ explicit request, which led directly to the predictable death of their child.

Tesla’s argument for why they intentionally disobeyed parents was… because they could. A toddler-level mentality of safety, if not a conspiratorial one. When parties A and B come to a service provider with conflicting requests, Tesla very clearly took sides: serving the (reckless abandon) one and not the (safer, wiser, legal) other.

Two footnotes also may be worth adding.

First, this Tesla also operated with two un-repaired recalls at the time of its crash; unrelated to the cause of death yet it still gives evidence of Tesla being not on top of safety.

Second, the car continuously re-ignited into fire. It was on fire when police arrived. It then caught on fire again when it was put on a tow truck. It then caught on fire again when it was put on a second tow truck. And it then caught on fire again when it was unloaded from the second tow truck. That’s significantly worserush to market” thinking than even the Pinto disaster.

The lawsuits brought by injured people and their survivors uncovered how the company rushed the Pinto through production and onto the market. […] Ford officials decided to manufacture the car even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank. Did anyone go to Mr. Iacocca and tell him the gas tank was unsafe? “Hell no,” replied an engineer who worked on the Pinto. “That person would have been fired. Safety wasn’t a popular subject around Ford in those days. With Lee it was taboo.” As Lee Iacocca was then fond of saying, “Safety doesn’t sell.”

Does anyone really want to buy a sore thumb?

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