Tesla's Autopilot system almost certainly saves lives every day.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated, and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. (1)
The talk of today's news is about US Senator Ed Markey asking Tesla to disable it's Autopilot system until something can be done to keep people using Autopilot from falling asleep at the wheel. He says it's not right until Tesla "fixes the problem."
I absolutely agree. But the good senator does not go far enough! With possibly up to 6,000 drowsy driving deaths a year, he needs to step it up and ask ALL automakers to do something about this and fix the problem!
Perhaps a workable solution is for EVERY car to have in-cab cameras, and whenever the system thinks you're falling asleep it gives the driver a strong electric shock. Well, that may be too much, but hopefully, you get the point. Driver drowsiness monitoring technology is now present in more and more cars.
Oh, and by the way, I have yet to hear of even one single Autopilot driver or their surrounding drivers being involved in an accident because of drowsiness, let alone be killed.
I personally have a problem with the senator's remarks. I think I'm so adamant about it because it touches very close to home for me. I suffer from DDD (drowsy distance driving). Okay, so it's not a real condition but should be. I frequently have a hard time staying awake at the wheel. I can't count the number of times I've wanted to kiss the ground and praise heaven above when arriving safely at my destination. I look forward with great anticipation for the day when I can afford a vehicle with Autopilot or equivalent driving assistance features.
Now, to be clear, when I get my Autopilot assisted vehicle, I don't plan on relaxing and going to sleep on purpose, but it only takes seconds of nodding off to cause a terrible accident that could end in fatalities, not only to the driver but also other innocent people.
Senator, if anything, Tesla's Autopilot should be applauded, not turned off. It has most likely saved many lives and will yet save many more!