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Teslas in Autopilot Mode Still Safer Than Humans

Days after a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber, a 38-year-old man was killed in a Tesla that was in Autopilot mode.

A pair of deadly collisions have consumers concerned about the safety of semi-autonomous vehicles as well as a dystopian future filled with autonomous vehicles.

Six days after a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber test vehicle, a 38-year-old man was killed in a Tesla Model X that was in Autopilot mode when it crashed into a freeway barrier. In an update on the Tesla blog, the company states that it has "never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash." According to the company, the crash was so severe because of a damaged safety barrier that had been crushed in a similar accident and not replaced. As you can see from the photos, almost 90% of the barrier was taken out by a previous crash, leaving little between the car, which was operating at freeway speeds, and the concrete median.

The concern has been seen here at IEN. In a recent comment, ARTP says, “Not sure I understand the logic of driverless cars … Makes no sense.”

TBROWN says, “I'm with you on that! Seems like car makers are just asking for trouble. With self-driving, every accident is their fault! I love to drive! Why would I want this? …  Not worth the trouble.”

However, some readers, like WATCHMAN1872 see the benefit of the technology assisting drivers. “In a roundabout way, this accident makes the case for autonomous cars … People aren't getting any smarter, so I guess the sooner this technology is worked out, and the sooner we can take human error out of the equation, the fewer wrecks … we will have to deal with.”

According to Tesla, despite the previously reported crashes, cars on Autopilot are still a lot safer. In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report following an investigation into the first Tesla Autopilot death, which came in a Tesla Model S. According to the report, Autopilot actually reduced crash rates in Tesla vehicles by nearly 40 percent.

If you consider every vehicle on the road, one person dies for every 86 million miles driven. Tesla vehicles with Autopilot have one fatality for every 320 million miles. According to the company, it is impossible to prevent all accidents, but if you consider there are about 1.25 million auto deaths worldwide, if every car were as safe as a Tesla, 900,000 lives could be saved each year.

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