Elon Musk Defends Tesla Following Latest Self-Driving Accident

The CEO claims reactions to the crash are disproportionate

Elon Musk is defending his company after another accident involving a Tesla. Getty Images
Headshot of Alissa Fleck

Tesla is in the hot seat again after a 28-year-old Utah woman crashed her vehicle into a fire truck last weekend, but shifted the blame to the car’s self-driving feature. The woman, who sustained only minor injuries in the crash, said she had activated the car’s autopilot mode, but confessed she was looking at her phone directly prior to the crash. The self-driving feature requires a human driver to be attentive at all times.

Witnesses said the car did not brake before hitting the truck at a red light.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, said in a statement he stands by the safety of the company’s vehicles. Despite this, Musk tweeted that “[the autopilot feature] certainly needs to be better & we work to improve it every day.”

It has not yet been confirmed by investigators that the car was in self-driving mode when it crashed.

Musk also took to Twitter to marvel at the fact that a 60 mph crash resulted in such a minor injury, and to remind people that on average the self-driving car will reduce injuries and saves lives.

Tesla is already under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board following a March 23 Tesla Model X collision in California, which is not even the first that has been attributed to autopilot mode. Self-driving software was also implicated in the death of an Arizona pedestrian in a March 18 incident involving Uber.

Uber’s software detected the pedestrian but failed to stop, according to the company. It claimed the vehicle was likely set to a mode where it would detect but ignore “false positives.”

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

@AlissaFleck Alissa Fleck is a New York City-based reporter, podcast producer and contributor to Adweek.