By on July 10, 2016

Volvo Autonomous Drive, Image: Volvo Cars

The National Transportation Safety Board plans to investigate the fatal May 7 Tesla crash to see if the trend of increased automation in driving functions has a dark side, Bloomberg reports.

Already, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the incident and the role the vehicle’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system played in the crash, but the NTSB has a broader scope in mind. As vehicles increasingly rely on electronic aids for safety, drivers could be letting down their guard.

Tesla admits that the Autopilot system in Joshua Brown’s Model S failed to recognize the transport truck crossing the Florida highway in front of him due to bright sunlight reflecting off of the trailer. After this incident and a July 1 rollover crash of a Model X driving in Autopilot mode, safety and consumer advocates are livid over the company’s beta testing of a potentially unsafe technology.

Autopilot can be fooled, but what isn’t clear is why Brown himself didn’t try to avoid the large obstacle that appeared directly in front of him on a dry, sunny day.

The driver of the truck said he heard, but didn’t see, the movie Harry Potter playing in the wreckage of the Model S. However, a responding Florida Highway Patrol officer claims neither the laptop nor the portable DVD player found in the vehicle were running after the crash. Sergeant Kim Montes told Reuters that investigators can’t say whether Brown was operating either device at the time of the collision.

For the NTSB investigators arriving in Florida this week, looking into the cause of the Tesla crash won’t be the only part of their job. The team — and agency — wants to know of if there are any systemic issues with autonomous technology that could compromise public safety. If any issues are found, the NTSB could seek to change policies surrounding the technology.

“It’s worth taking a look and seeing what we can learn from that event, so that as that automation is more widely introduced we can do it in the safest way possible,” NTSB spokesperson Christopher O’Neil told Bloomberg.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

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105 Comments on “Do Automated Safety Aids Make Drivers Complacent? The NTSB Wants to Know...”


  • avatar
    carguy67

    We need a ‘study’ to investigate something that’s obvious on the surface? Where can I get a government job?

    Hey, I beat BTSR!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “We need a ‘study’ to investigate something that’s obvious on the surface? Where can I get a government job?”

      If you think the solution to the issue is “obvious on the surface”, then you don’t understand the problem. There’s a lot more to it than just turning it on or off; they need to figure out how to introduce the capabilities in a safe manner because automation IS coming, you can’t prevent it.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        I said nothing about a ‘solution’ (nor did the article). Anyone who isn’t paying complete attention to their driving–a majority of the drivers I see every weekday–are ‘complacent’ by definition. The ‘solution’ is to have all drivers fully engaged, unless and until our entire infrastructure is overhauled to provide the visual cues self-driving cars will require, and require every car on the road to be capable of car-to-car communication.

        Most modern airliners are capable of being programmed to take off, fly to a destination and land (if the airport is Category III instrument landing capability). Yet, we still had Air France 447 which, in part, was caused by a crew that had become complacent by ‘letting George do it.’

  • avatar
    Fred

    I don’t check air pressure or oil level because the car monitors it for me and I can check it by pushing a few buttons on the steering wheel. I got lazy turning on my headlights in the Chevy because it would do it.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      I was once involved in a accident on a dark rainy night because the other driver failed to notice that her automatic headlights had not activated.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Anecdotal evidence FTW!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          That one’s anecdotal evidence that has a fair amount of support. I can’t tell you how many cars I saw at night driving only on their Daylight Running Lamps with no taillights because those lamps were using the headlights at half power. If you were coming up behind one, the only clue you had until you got close was a moving glow on the roadway. You wouldn’t see the car itself until you got close enough for your own headlamps to light up the rear reflectors on the other car. And some of those are none too bright any more.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            +1000

            This is one of my major pet peeves. How can NHTSA and DOT even allow cars on the road that give the driver the false impression (DRL and dash illumination without so much as a single warning light) that their running lights are on?

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Is it clear yet whether an alert driver could have avoided this crash? I keep seeing carefully parsed statements about “responding” that avoid whether or not avoidance was even possible. Has anyone seen more detail?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Without knowing when the truck driver executed his turn in relation to the location of the Tesla, it is difficult to know. (Ironically, the “Autopilot” may provide the best way to answer the question.) The investigation should attempt to address this question, of course.

      Depending upon the truck’s travel speed, it could have traveled from the left turn lane to the crash location in perhaps two seconds. It’s quite possible that there was nothing that the driver or the “Autopilot” could have done to avoid the impact, although that does not justify the equipment failure.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        Hitting the brakes and possible evasive moves wouldn’t have hurt

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          There would have been no evasive maneuvers. The truck is longer than the width of the lanes that it was blocking.

          Braking may not have helped at all, depending upon when the turn began.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “There would have been no evasive maneuvers…braking may not have helped..”

            He went under the back half or third of the combination, correct? At the moment the trucker started the turn, the Tesla driver could not have been within 700 ft of intersection, traveling at the speed limit. He could’ve stopped several times in that distance, meaning all he had to do is let off gas to miss the trailer.

            This assumes the Tesla driver was doing the speed limit, the trucker should’ve waited, and or he assumed the Tesla driver would yield and slow down for him.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Since you were obviously a witness to the crash and are an expert on accident investigation, why don’t you tell us when the truck began its turn relative to the Tesla and the speed that each of them was traveling.

            I mean, it’s pretty obvious that you know something that everyone else doesn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            That’s a crude estimate just to point out the Tesla was covering about 100 ft per second at the speed limit. At the point of impact, you can start counting backwards to the moment the truck driver started his turn. With a 100′ wide median the trucks mid section had to have traveled 200′ from the moment the truck driver started the turn.

            Here’s the satellite view of the intersection.

            d254andzyoxz3f.cloudfront.net/alex-roy-auto-pilot-map-distance-art.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You’re not very good at this forensics stuff, after all.

            It wouldn’t be 200′ from the limit line of the left turn lane to the point of impact.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Where’s the “limit line” in the aerial? How far back do you think the Tesla was when the truck began the turn, with most of it clearing the Tesla’s path.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I know that you’re desperate to exonerate the truck driver, but (a) left turns have to yield to oncoming traffic, so the truck driver is almost certainly at fault and (b) the truck could have traveled from its left turn lane to the point of impact within a couple of seconds, given the short distances involved.

            Big hint for you: typical lane width for that kind of highway is 11-12 feet, and there were only two lanes in each direction, plus a left turn lane. You pulled the 200 feet out of your backside, along with everything else.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “…There would have been no evasive maneuvers…”

            You haven’t a clue, absolute zero, how far back the Tesla was when the truck started its turn, but feel free to comment anyway.

            Show the aerial photo you’re looking at. The median alone is about 100′ and the point on the truck that was struck is at least 50′ behind where ever the limit line is. Add to that the width of the lanes.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @DM: First off, I would suggest looking up the location in Google Maps or Google Earth for yourself; you have grossly exaggerated with width of the median for that stretch of road. The lanes themselves would be roughly 15′ wide, plus shoulders. The right shoulder appears to be almost the width of the traffic lanes while the left shoulder is approximately a third that width. That makes the width of the highway itself about 50′ with a 50′ median between the opposite traffic lanes.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “I know that you’re desperate to exonerate the truck driver..”

            This particular jihad of Mike’s leaves even Vulpine-on-minitrucks in the dust.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The length of the semi would have been greater than the width of the two lanes. Surely even you can figure that out.

            The only escape route would have been to go into the median (read: a great place to flip the car) and into the opposing lanes (read: an excellent place to kill and be killed.)

            This would have been made more difficult by the fact that the Tesla was traveling in the right-hand/#2 lane.

            So the only evasive maneuver would have been slamming the brakes. And we have no idea whether or not there was time for that, since we have no idea when the truck began its turn in relation to the Tesla or the travel speeds of either of the vehicles.

            The DMV should be open today. I doubt that an appointment is needed for surrendering your license.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – The aerial I provided lays out the distance for you. Every tic is 20′. The turn would be on an arc too.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “..we have no idea whether or not there was time for that…”

            Fist, speak for yourself. But that doesn’t stop you from commenting: “There would have been no evasive maneuvers…”

            “The truck is longer than the width of the lanes that it was blocking…”

            The truck was in motion at the point of impact, and by your math, it had to have been at point-blank range when it started its turn. Except the Tesla would’ve missed it completely, passing in front it. Or if not, struck the front axle/cab, especially from the #2, slow lane.

            The point is, unless the truck, the front half of the combination, could jump across 2 lanes and a median in with maximum C7 Corvette acceleration , you haven’t a clue enough to comment. But has that ever stopped you?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The truck would have been blocking all of the lanes — it’s longer than the width of the lanes.

            Last I checked, Tesla doesn’t have teleportation or tunnel digging capabilities. Musk may like to oversell, but even he isn’t claiming those. So there’s nowhere to go but straight.

            And again, the truck would have been at fault for turning without having the right of way. No amount of bad mapping is going to justify your crappy driving style.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Yeah the truck was blocking both lanes, but moving fast, according to you. It would’ve been gone in a flash, easily clearing the lanes, if the Tesla had just let off the gas a bit.

            The point is, the Tesla can stop in about 150 feet including reaction time, from the speed limit.

            It’s traveling in the #2 lane, so if the truck starts its turn anything closer than 150 feet away (from the point of impact), the Tesla can easily cover that in much less time (avoiding impact) than it takes the truck to cross the median, cross the #1 lane, and enter the #2.

            And that’s the nose of the truck.

            Obviously the Tesla was much farther back than 150 feet, as the truck started the turn. Approx 700 feet from the point of impact, is the only thing that makes any kind of sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I realize that you are never going to figure this out, but one is not permitted to begin a turn unless it can be completed safely.

            It makes no difference whether the truck was traveling at 1 mph or 31 mph. It should have yielded to oncoming traffic, regardless.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Yeah the “Fault” part. We agree the fault would shift heavily to the Tesla driver if he was speeding, and you still refuse to answer which is a worse citation. Speeding or multi-tasking to the point of not watching the road, with zero control of the vehicle. The Tesla driver might have been guilty of both.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “We agree the fault would shift heavily to the Tesla driver if he was speeding,…”

            Why do you insist on “IF he was speeding”? It’s pretty much a given that he was going 20mph over the speed limit, if not faster.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That’s great. Vulpine, who apparently doesn’t know that lanes aren’t typically 15 feet wide, now knows the speed at which the Tesla was traveling.

            I am surrounded by self-appointed uneducated experts who know nothing. What a blessing.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch: Have you ever thought of trying to PROVE us wrong instead of just denying what we say?

            You should be happy, I’ve been trying to support you here.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You guys never prove anything except that you are able to repeat the same falsehoods ad nauseum without any embarrassment whatsoever.

            I have no obligation to prove anything to you, since the exercise invariably proves to be useless. Your reading skills suck so you don’t even understand the information when it is presented to you.

            I’ve already provided evidence to support that turning traffic does not have the right of way. That proved to be an enormous waste of time. (That’s 20 seconds of my life that I won’t get back.)

            It is easy enough to look at a FHWA road manual to know what standard lane widths are. This stuff is not a secret.

            There’s this exciting new website called Google that will help you to find it in about 15 seconds if you bother to make an effort. But you won’t, because you never do. Frankly, I doubt that you’re even capable of doing something that simple.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “You guys never prove anything except that you are able to repeat the same falsehoods ad nauseum without any embarrassment whatsoever.”
            — Yet you yourself have been proven wrong multiple times and you continue to spout your opinions as though they were facts.

            “I have no obligation to prove anything to you, since the exercise invariably proves to be useless.”
            — Could it be because we’re able to prove you wrong so many times?

            “Your reading skills suck so you don’t even understand the information when it is presented to you.
            — Is it that we can understand the information, or that we can’t understand what you write? You have an abhorrent habit of saying nothing in the course of trying to say something.

            “I’ve already provided evidence to support that turning traffic does not have the right of way.”
            — That’s not what we’re arguing about, now is it? Well, maybe DM but I’ve actually been trying to support your argument that A) The truck driver failed to yield, and B) the Tesla was exceeding the speed limit by at least 20mph. BOTH are circumstances that we can agree on and quite honestly both drivers, not the car itself, are/were at fault.

            “It is easy enough to look at an FHWA road manual to know what standard lane widths are. This stuff is not a secret.”
            — A standard is a set of minimum conditions to meet safe usage. Lanes are typically 12-13 feet wide, but that doesn’t mean they have to be 12-13 feet wide… that’s a minimum standard. They CAN be 15-20 feet wide if a builder wants to make it that way while a typical 2-lane highway is 25-30 feet wide but CAN be 35 feet wide and wider.

            “There’s this exciting new website called Google that will help you to find it in about 15 seconds if you bother to make an effort.”
            — Google Earth is your friend.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I can’t recall one time when you’ve proven anything.

            I hate to break it to you, but typing the same inaccurate point a dozen times does not prove anything except that you aren’t very bright.

            Have you looked up those lane widths yet?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Yup. In excess of 13 feet each lane while the overall northbound side of the highway is very nearly 35 feet wide. The median is 60 feet wide and the intersection is at an acute angle for the truck driver, having to turn roughly 110° to enter the road he was turning onto.

            Google Earth is your friend.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Smart people know better than to rely on satellite images to measure exact distances, given the margin of error.

            But no one has ever accused you of being one of those, I’m sure.

            If you want to know the distances, then you should wait for the crash report. But standard lane widths for interstates are 12′, and 11-12′ for divided highways such as that one.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Smart people know better than to rely on satellite images to measure exact distances, given the margin of error.”

            Hmmmm… Really? So you’re calling the world governments dumb for relying on satellite data over the course of 50 years for intelligence gathering? Yes, there is a margin of error; rarely is it excessive, especially since GPS has improved the accuracy of those measurements by so much over the years.

            And as I said before, the “standard” is a minimum spec, NOT a law to be measured down to the millimeter.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – Just let it go. He’ll lose the argument, hit you with nonstop ad hominem and other pointless junk, until the greater points of the topic or thread, are washed away.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Don’t you just love it where even when you’re right, you’re wrong? At least I admit when I’m wrong–if there is verifiable proof of the fact.

            Oh, by the way…

            Pennsylvania charged the Model X driver with negligence in that crash; absolving Tesla of blame.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Poor Vulpine. The fact that you don’t grasp the concept of margin of error doesn’t surprise me. You never do.

            One of your failings is your ongoing pattern of using flimsy information that isn’t quite on point in order to reach conclusions that you have no business reaching. You’re just not very bright, and no one on the internet is going to fix what ails you.

            I’m sorry that you suffer from an enormous inferiority complex that stems from your lack of education, but spewing stuff on this website isn’t going to make you any smarter.

            Wait for the crash investigation to be completed, and then you’ll know what distances are involved. You don’t have the data or the brainpower to know otherwise.

            You know, I take that back. You won’t understand the crash report even if you do read it. Research skills require literacy, and you’re not good at either one of them.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            • Poor Vulpine. The fact that you don’t grasp the concept of margin of error doesn’t surprise me.
            — You won’t believe me, but I’m betting I know a lot more about ‘margin of error’ than you do.

            • One of your failings is your ongoing pattern of using flimsy information that isn’t quite on point in order to reach conclusions that you have no business reaching.
            — One of your failings is your ongoing pattern of jumping to conclusions with no data to back it up.

            • I’m sorry that you suffer from an enormous inferiority complex that stems from your lack of education,…
            — See above.

            • Wait for the crash investigation to be completed, and then you’ll know what distances are involved.
            — Much of that information is already available from multiple sources, INCLUDING the police report itself.

            • You won’t understand the crash report even if you do read it.
            — Ad hominem attacks do more harm to your argument than mine, as it means you’ve run out of valid rebuttals.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m not going to bother to read your response, as I am sure that it is utterly useless.

            You have no idea how fast any of the vehicles were traveling, so stop pretending that you know. You don’t have the data, and I’m sure that you wouldn’t know what to do with it even if you did have the data. Your rambling makes it abundantly clear that you have no education, either formal or informal; you are under the delusion that being redundant is the same as being intelligent.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            85 according to eyewitness minutes before the crash.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Pch101: Even if the truck took eight seconds to reach the point of impact, it very probably would not have made a difference considering the speed the Tesla was reported to be traveling. It might have been able to slow down, but based on currently available information I find it highly unlikely that it could have stopped in time or even slowed enough to have an escape route around behind the trailer.

        One person on another board suggested that at the point where the Tesla crested a small rise in the highway, the car took less than eight seconds to reach the truck. Traveling at the speed limit would have taken it 12 seconds. Given the average human response time of roughly one second, the car would have probably cleared the tail of the truck under heavy braking and an emergency lane change.

        This driver, for whatever reason, never reacted. Why? We don’t know. Some believe he was watching a video either on a PC or a standalone DVD player. Police reports state neither was operating at the time of the crash. Could he have been asleep? Possibly; there is at least one video of a driver doing exactly that on YouTube. Whatever the reason, he trusted the car to do something it was not designed to do.

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          Vulpine, I don’t disagree with what you say but note the wording of the police regarding the devices:

          > However, a responding Florida Highway Patrol officer claims neither the laptop nor the portable DVD player found in the vehicle were running after the crash. Sergeant Kim Montes told Reuters that investigators can’t say whether Brown was operating either device at the time of the collision.

          I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion that they were off at the time of the crash as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            If neither was operating, then is it not logical that they were essentially turned off, even if not manually switched off? Granted, a laptop has a ‘sleep’ mode that requires only a touch to wake it up. The DVD player, typically, does not; at least until the DVD has run its course and completed, at which point it would go to ‘sleep’. Again, a mere touch would wake it up, implying it was in operating mode.

            Personally, I’m not saying one way or the other. The truck driver swears he ‘heard Harry Potter playing on the screen’, though he never saw it. I question this observation because the truck itself would have been loud enough to drown out most in-car audio no matter how loudly it was playing and the car was a quarter-mile away by the end of the incident. Did the truck driver run that full quarter-mile just to listen to the car? Or was his statement based on hearsay and therefore invalid?

            There are simply too many questions here that we may never have answers to. It could be that Brown was playing anything he had as loudly as possible in an attempt to stay awake, and still managed to fall asleep at the wheel. Where did he begin his trip that day? Where was he going? How long had he been driving? Had he been on a marathon coast-to-coast run taking 1-hour naps at each Supercharger station? Again, we just don’t know enough.

            Even the question of the trucker’s legal or illegal left turn in the circumstance is at question due to the fact that the car was KNOWN to be speeding only minutes prior to the crash. I happen to agree that he is at least partially at fault, though the Google Earth street view of the intersection hints that he might not have seen the car over the crest of a slight rise prior to beginning his turn. But then, other statements alleged by him say he saw the car change lanes to the ‘slow’ lane moments before the impact. Supposedly under Autopilot, that should not be possible since Autopilot is lane-keeping first and crossing traffic isn’t supposedly even in the programming yet.

            Was he awake?
            Was he asleep?
            Was the DVD player turned on (even if not operating?)
            Was the computer turned on (even if not operating?)
            Did Autopilot attempt the impossible?
            Without being on the investigative team, we will never know all the details, I’m sure. Without those details, we can only speculate. As such, any conclusions we arrive at may be anything BUT the truth.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            So there was s similar incident recently in Florida which seems relevant:

            ” Florida woman is facing reckless driving charges and injuries after careening off the road when she closed her eyes to pray while driving, WPTV reports.

            The woman was driving in Mary Esther, a small coastal city in Florida on Monday when she blew through a stop sign and crashed into the yard of a house.”

            In this instance, should the homeowner sue Jesus or Carrie Underwood for damages?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Big rigs don’t negotiate turns like sports cars. He would’ve struck the truck itself, if it was a point-blank range, not the trailer.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “Big rigs don’t negotiate turns like sports cars.”

        So a truck driver oughta be extra really careful to see if anyone’s coming, huh?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “So a truck driver oughta be extra really careful to see if anyone’s coming, huh?”

          Are you saying that “might makes right” isn’t enshrined in the Vehicle Code?

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          We don’t know that he didn’t look, and a “speeding” Tesla would make that irrelevant.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Well, you’ve got a historically defensible point there, all right.

            A supersonic Tesla could be right down on your ass before you ever heard the sound of its Harry Potter. Like V-2 rockets outran their own noise.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Whenever Mike turns left, he has the right of way because he’s Mike and Mike always has the right of way just because. It’s shocking that you can’t understand this.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            I’ve always been an overemotional girly girl.

    • 0 avatar
      NickS

      I have a hunch that the speed of the Tesla may have been a factor as well. The investigation should tell us a lot more that might make more sense. Some truck drivers are bad but I generally don’t see many who are. And they understannd very well the link between their income and the way they drive.

      Separate from that, the Tesla system seems to rely on a lot of visual information which is a huge weakness. Camera and lidar on the front can miss things that a radar/sonar system would not. It is hard to believe that Tesla is letting their owners think they have an autopilot when their system is nowhere near that. This is going to be a huge liability for Tesla and they will most definitely lock it down, put more nagware to keep the driver engaged more and less free to do other things, or disable most of it. In future versions they will need to use eye trackers too.

      Autonomous mode that permits speeding even 1 mph above posted is asking for trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Autonomous mode that permits speeding even 1 mph above posted is asking for trouble.”

        Now here you’ve made a very valid point. Except for one problem: Was the speed at that last posted sign 35mph or 85mph? That is a very common bit of vandalism I’ve seen all over the country, though to human eyes the hand-painted vandalism tends to be obvious while to a camera it may not. And you can’t necessarily rely on GPS-based speed limits either, as some counties and communities tend to change speed limits almost arbitrarily.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Some truck drivers are bad but I generally don’t see many who are.”

        Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records don’t identify drivers by name, but they show that the driver for the trucking company Okemah Express was ordered off the road in January after being cited by a Virginia state inspector for being on duty more than the legal limit of 14 hours in one day.

        Okemah’s driver was also cited for failing to obey a traffic control device in March and an improper lane change in December. And an inspection last year found the truck’s tires were going bald.

        Sixty-two-year-old Frank Baressi of Palm Harbor, Florida, is the owner of Okemah Express. The company has one truck and one driver, Baressi himself.

        http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2016-07-01/the-latest-tesla-crash-a-harbinger-of-industry-fears

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          It only takes one bad truck driver to ruin your day.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Or one truck TIRE!! (Or bits of the carcass, after a retread blows off!)

            Twice on my commute last week, I saw pieces big enough to probably cause a Chevy Spark or Ford Festiva to do some crazy aerobatics after a direct hit!

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        How much of the “forensics” was lost when the Tesla was “convertiblized?” My guess is that the main front-facing camera in that car, assuming it broke away in one piece, is probably lost in a nearby ditch, was eaten by an alligator, who knows?

        Hopefully, most of that recording stuff is in the dash! (I thought there was an available system in these cars which uses an SD card to record video from the camera(s), becoming a dashcam. Wait, wait..that’s only the CTS-V and ‘Vette, as a track aid?)

  • avatar
    jrhmobile

    I don’t think “complacent” is the operative term. “Oblivious”, I think, would be more accurate.

    Just as airbags gave cover to people who refused to wear seatbelts and driver assists seem to sanction stupid driving because “the car will save them” — looking at YOU Mercedes-Benz — Tesla’s over-promising Autopilot gives the obtuse an excuse roll down the road without paying attention.

    It’s impossible to make driver assists foolproof, because fools are too ingenious to keep within limits. I’m beginning to believe Google’s solution — to remove the human interface entirely — is the only viable option.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Google’s solution — to remove the human interface entirely”

      Brown tried that.

      • 0 avatar
        jrhmobile

        And, he failed.

        His YouTube video(s) showed he wasn’t afraid to push the technology, and his fate pushed back. Brown won his Darwin award, and Tesla takes the big hit.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “I’m beginning to believe Google’s solution — to remove the human interface entirely — is the only viable option.”

      Google is also limiting its autonomous vehicles to closed environments such as a campus or office park. They recognize the real world is much too unpredictable.

      As someone still interested in driving, I had hoped autonomous vehicles would eliminate the dangers posed to me by drunk and texting drivers. In addition I would welcome the automated lane discipline and the use of turn signals. Alas, that dream seems to be a long way off.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        At least in Ohio, they’d better darn well raise the speed limits a little if they want autonomous anything to take hold! As zealously as it is enforced by the left-lane bandits, it’s a wonder half the state doesn’t nod off at the wheel as it is!

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    “Huh?”

    Bro, you’re low on COOLANT!

    “Oh. That’s what that tank was for.”

    – A transcript of the pre road trip conversation I had at the on-post gas station, where I discovered the drivers 2001 Ford Explorer XLT had more liquid condensing outside the surge tank then there was coolant inside of it.

    Your typical driver has more important things to do then to pay attention to their cars, even on a basic maintenance level.And some wonder why enthusiast cars don’t sell.

  • avatar

    I expect to be able to get in the car drunk, tell the car: “take me home” and go to sleep.

    Then I expect to wake up at home.

    Until the cars can do that, I don’t consider them autonomous.

    Considering the recent fatalities, I would treat autopilot the same way I treat adaptive cruise control.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Most of us here already know the outcome of this “fact finding” mission will be.

    The people advocating to let it be as Darwinism will take over and cull the stupid from our society must realise these fools can also take others with them.

    This is why freedom isn’t really free. You sometimes should not be able to feel free to make decisions that can adversely impact others, ie, in this case kill them.

    I’d say there will be changes afoot and a wake up call to the Silicon Valley people attempting to become involved in the auto business.

    These autonomous and semi autonomous cars are not WarCraft or a poor application that makes it hard to use your smart phone.

    These vehicles are lethal to others as well as the stupid or complacent in our society.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Attn NTSB:

    Re: Do safety aids make drivers complacent?

    Yes.

    Please find my enclosed invoice for $10,000,000.00 USD.

    Sincerely,

    APaGttH

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Depending on the driver, yes. But loss of skill, most certainly. Pilots have been fighting this battle since automation began to come into our cockpits. Deterioration of flying skills and reliance on automation or improper use of automation have led to at least two tragic losses in the past decade (Air France 447 and Asiana 214 respectively). Automation wasn’t entirely to blame, but it didn’t help. The automation formed a link in the “accident chain”.

    I try to hand-fly my airplane as much as possible. My airplane is an older turboprop with a good autopilot, but little other automation. But again, it’s “driver” dependent. Our minimum altitude to engage the autopilot is 1000 above ground and it must be disengaged at 200 ft above the ground on the other side. There are colleagues of mine who turn it on at 1000 ft and don’t turn it off until 200ft. Other aircraft and airlines are no different and the long haul guys are worse. Transoceanic guys and gals often are lucky to do 6 take-offs or landings a month, where I might do 6 in a day.

    The shame (and problem is) distracted driving, mobile devices and vehicle automation are coming together at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      There are considerably fewer objects to avoid at even 200ft altitude than on most roads, but your hand-fly preference sounds like a good idea anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Absolutely, even 200 ft. gives you enough time to fix most impending problems in any airplane. But in any airplane you can disable the automation (or most of it) by pushing the BRB- Big red button that disengages the autopilot. No such thing in an automobile, so the driver must keep situational awareness. Sadly, that very aspect is disappearing from our roads as more people bury themselves in their mobile device while driving.

        As our ’14 Odyssey puts on the miles( and only 22k of them at this point) the FCW (forward collision warning) system has started to false more often. Like auto wipers, sometimes the system gets an odd flash of light it interprets as an impending collision and it beeps. But that’s it. I couldn’t imagine if it was tied to an auto brake system.

        But I am loathe to disable it (I’ve already reduced the sensitivity to minimum) because the one time myself (or the wife) isn’t paying attention and it could save us from accident. But I disabled the lane watch or whatever system that beeps when you drift in the lane. Even at its lowest setting, it was too intrusive.

        I’m fine with aids in any vehicle, just give me a chance to turn them off if I need to. Like traction control on an FWD vehicle. No, thank you.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          I installed a Mobileye 560 in my Escape. The FCW is pretty good with very few errors. It even goes off if parked cars overly narrow the lane ahead. When I do a moving right turn off a certain Y intersection, it always gives a false alarm it there’s a vehicle in the other lane of the turnoff. Its low speed FCW is very accurate. The LDW is surprisingly accurate, even in the dark or poor conditions. I don’t believe this device makes me any more complacent than bumpers, air bags, collapsing steering columns, searbelts or crush zones.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Seems to me all of this is easy to see and easily seen as good. Have to even wonder, I guess, why the government even is wasting time…or do we?

    My grandfather had to crank his car to start, I just push a button.
    Today’s information and specialty world makes all of us skilled in some areas and totally ignorant in others. Few of us would even know how to start a campfire or make bread from scratch.

    But not having to do old work doesn’t make me a worse driver. It makes me a safer driver.
    I love my wipers being sensitive and working as they feel needed.
    I like my lights going on as soon as they feel needed, along with my auto brights.
    I love having my headlights turn as I corner.

    In fact, no matter how careful I am, my sensors have saved me a hundred times from small damage to my car when parking to actually preventing me from backing into idiots trying to walk quickly as I reversed out from a parking spot.
    Shit happens and I welcome any tech that helps me help myself.

    This s not to say I think anything near auto anything should be advertised. The only correct tech is driver enhancement and aids…nothing that enables a driver to think paying less attention is OK.

    But let’s be fair…even glancing down at something that makes a noise, or the GPS, or the radio, or the passenger next to you…anything can distract you at the wrong moment in life. If my eyes miss a deer in the ditch but my car sees it and warns me….this is a good thing and we do not need a government study.And any tech that helps prevent a bad thing from happening, that gives you a third and 4th eye…is all good.

  • avatar

    Anyone who actually has to ask if the aids make drivers complacent is not qualified to do research on traffic safety. Inattention for more than 2 seconds at freeway speeds is considered unsafe. THAT is why there are a maximum of 6 logos on the signs before exits about the lodging, fuel and food available at that exit. Research showed the average driver could take in 6 logos with only a 2 second diversion of attention.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Actually what you don’t want to do is to go into a study with a preconceived answer. It’s like oil companies commisioning climate change, or McDonalds doing a nutrition study. Besides all jokes aside what this study is trying to do is to determine how to make drivers less distracted by understanding what actually distracts us and makes us complacent about driving.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      But are these driver aids also not distractions? The damn NAV system in our 2015 Sequoia drives us crazy! The backup camera pops on but you still have to use your side mirrors.

      Not to mention all the doo-dads, knobs and buttons you gotta look for to use, and thus have to take your eyes off the road.

      My grandson’s wife ran off the road fiddling with an aid in her Accord, and she is used to it because she has to fiddle with equipment in her Highway Patrol cruiser every day she’s working.

      Imagine the automated aids car that vibrates your @ss to warn you of cross-traffic or slams on your brakes while on a railroad trestle.

      Whatever happened to driver situational awareness? You should be able to disable the feature.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Wow.
    I am confused. I guess from the replies and postings I am reading that there is no wonder any more why people can’t get along.
    Reason has left the building.
    How in hell can driving “aids” hurt driving?????????
    I guess IF you let they do the driving or you are an idiot from the beginning, nothing will help explain why an aid is distracting.
    They are AIDS…not anything more or less.
    If they are distracting…then they are not aiding you. And any tech that is distracting…is wrongly designed and shouldn’t be called an aid.

    But to confuse aids that take away you need to pay attention with those that do their work quietly behind the scenes and only make themselves known AFEF you F#&$Ked up…these are true aids.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    In view of the number of people who vie for Darwin Awards by wandering around, oblivious to everything but the smartphones in front of their faces, is there any need to ask this question?

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Any autonomous system worth having would make that Volvo screech to a halt and pop open the passenger door for a hottie like that!

    I’d be all like “Komma in! Snabbt! Det finns muslimer runt här!”

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’ve been hearing rumors of people playing the latest “technology that will lead to the end of western society”, Pokemon Go, while driving. Supposedly it won’t work at speeds over 30 mph, but that isn’t stopping people. Pedestrian issue too. Haven’t seen it personally yet.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      It’s everywhere. Kids – and adults – walking and running all over the neighborhood with their heads in their phones. I wish the app would give extra points for taking a sidekick; my dog needs exercise too.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Saturday I was stymied by a huge, fat TED-stockinged 70-something stopped in the middle of a grocery aisle next to his cart, head in phone, trying to remember how to call his wife to say he can’t find nothing no more ’cause they recently rearranged the store prior to an ownership change.

        Oblivious doesn’t begin to describe the guy, frozen mastodon being closer. I gave up on getting his attention and just did a 360 via the next aisle to get my Tang.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          No obstacle can prevent Kenmore from getting his daily dose of ‘Tang!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Saturday I was stymied by a huge, fat TED-stockinged 70-something stopped in the middle of a grocery aisle…”

          I once saw Family Guy’s Peter Griffin (so close as to actually be him) lying on the floor in the grocery store trying to reach something in the back of the shelf. Yes, he was that big and yes, he blocked the entire aisle for several minutes. They don’t have to be old to be inconsiderate. Too many people today are more concerned about self than courtesy, whether it be in the grocery store or on the highway.

          I look at it this way; if they drive that that in the store, they probably drive like that on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      It does work at speeds over 30mph, but apparently only for passengers. They’re the only ones that will have the focus and reaction times to take advantage of it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Considering that Sally Ruth is perfectly content to do her make-up behind the wheel of her ’95 Thunderbird that has no driving aids at all, I’d think that plenty of drivers are already “complacent.” Yes, people should pay attention to the road instead of their personal appearances or cell phones, but it seems to me like these driver aids help mitigate what is a foregone conclusion…that people already drive recklessly.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Thumbs up, Kyree. You are SO right there.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Kyree

      I don’t know how to see my wife’s driving skill, but it all seems to fit in these discussions on TTAC these weeks.

      I pass her on the road driving in the opposite direction many times.
      I see her coming and try to wave at her. She drives past, eyes coldly and studiously looking forward.

      I ask her about this and she says she just doesn’t see me.
      How?
      So this whole discussion of complacency or distraction is really about driving skill.
      It is really about different levels of folks abilities to drive. With or without aids.

      Theresa IS concentrating. Hard.
      She simply cannot focus on anything that isn’t directly in front of her. And so good luck for her seeing a deer in the ditch early and avoiding. She is just going to rely on her reacting to it once it appears in front…unless the driver assist tech of the modern era is allowed to be used.

      This is always, to me, going to come down to society dumbing down rules and laws to the lowest common denominator. We will only be allowed to do what the poorest drives can do.
      If they cannot change channels on their radio…out go the radios.
      If they cannot drink a soda…out goes the driving while drinking.

      Life is anything but fair and equal. And driving skill is as unequally distributed.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Well, yes. That’s why you have decals all over your lawnmower telling you not to stick your fingers under the lawnmower…because someone actually did that, and lost a finger, and sued, and probably won. You know, even though it’s common sense to 99.99999% of people.

        But I think we’ve come to the same conclusion through two different types of drivers.

        You’re talking about your wife and her diminished senses, which are understandable. And, indeed, most people can’t react quickly enough to a deer jumping out in the middle of the road. That’s where autonomous technology and driving aids can really save a person’s bacon…er, venison.

        Meanwhile, I’m talking about people who actively engage in dangerous driving by texting behind the wheel and such. My line of thinking is that since those people are going to do that whether or not they have driver-aids, why not give them the driver-aids? At least the aids will save them, since they were going to do it anyway. It’s not the technology that makes them feel complacent enough to drive dangerously. Kevin in the next lane has already decided that he can drive just fine while his girlfriend, ahem, “services” him…and that’s whether he’s driving a new 7-Series with every radar and aid known to man…or a 1983 Ram that barely has a working alternator.

        Either way, the tech doesn’t hurt.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Ya…I wasn’t really disagreeing with you.
          I think you are correct.
          I was also trying to vote in fav of any aids that help.
          There simply is no argument that as tech advances, it must be put into our cars.

          Theresa, by the way, is not have diminished senses…she just is not a skilled driver.
          Never has been.
          She, like so many, just are doing the best they can.
          Peripheral vision is not a given to all, but it is a premium in life. As is anticipation and awareness.

          So, like you, I say bring it ll on. But do not call it autopilot. That is simply misleading and wrong. I still say it is a marketing ploy by Tesla…and they know it.

  • avatar
    415s30

    You give people anything and they get lazy. Wall E is on it’s way.


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