Drinking and driving is never, ever recommended, and it’s illegal. However, statistics surrounding the phenomenon would suggest otherwise — it happens all the time.
While a new video may not be the front page on most mainstream media news sites, since it doesn’t fit the narrative of killer cars driving themselves and killing people, a clip that was all over Twitter this week reminds us how helpful Tesla Autopilot can be.
Perhaps someone should inform Senators Markey and Blumenthal of this and present them with statistics. I’ll try. The two senators wanted federal regulators to take “corrective actions” against Tesla in order to prevent the misuse of its Autopilot feature, as The Verge reported after a fatal crash in Houston where many claimed a driverless Tesla Model S on Autopilot crashed. Those claims were later proven false, but the damage was done. The story had already blazed across social media and into our phones like a digital wildfire, and those who are biased against Tesla will refuse to look further than the headlines and have surely missed the actual truth of that story.
Tesla’s Autopilot saves lives, and there are hundreds of cases that clearly show this. One case went viral over Twitter a few days ago thanks to both Austin Tesla Club and Tesla Saves Lives. The latter originally shared the video, which was then picked up by many on Twitter.
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 31, 2021
This incident took place in the town of Ski, in Norway. The “driver” had his head slumped forwarded and to the side, which led people to think that he was unconscious. Some other drivers then followed the car and watched it stop on its own after driving some distance. The car stopped in a tunnel and turned on its hazard lights. A few people parked next to the car and started knocking on the window. They had no idea what had happened to the driver. When they couldn’t wake him up, they called emergency services for help.
Nøstvettunnelen er stengt mens vi venter på berging. Sak opprettes og førerkort tas midlertidig i beslag.
— Politiet i Øst (@politietost) July 30, 2021
Following the accident, Ski Eastern Police shared more details on Twitter. The 24-year-old driver was heavily drunk and passed out due to being heavily intoxicated. The police added that although there is video evidence, the man denied driving while intoxicated. This is actually normal — drunk people often take dangerous risks and lie about it despite evidence to the contrary.
Sounds like this could be a problem created by self driving cars. Selfish drunks thinking it’s fine to get behind the wheel because “the car is doing the driving”
Irresponsible, dangerous and horrifying.
Maybe Tesla should have a built in breathalyser to start the car.
— Gareth Battersby (@GarethBattersby) July 31, 2021
The above tweet is interesting because it leads to the idea that it’s Tesla’s responsibility that someone got drunk and decided to drive in the first place. Nonetheless, the idea that Tesla could include a built-in breathalyzer before allowing someone to start the car is an interesting concept.
For the naysayers who think Autopilot and FSD enable drunk driving, let’s remember that drinking and driving have been a large problem far longer than Tesla’s existence. Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) indicate that every day, around 28 people in the U.S. alone die in drunk-driving crashes. This is one person every 52 minutes. The stats are from 2019. Keep 2019 in your mind as I continue.
The NHTSA noted that the total number of people who lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving crashes in 2019 was 10,142.
If you click here and take a look at Tesla’s vehicle safety report for the last quarter of 2019, you will learn that Tesla registered one accident for every 3.07 million miles in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. Tesla breaks this down by every quarter, and I’ll list the 2019 stats in order.
- Q1 2019: one accident for every 2.87 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged.
- Q2 2019: one accident for every 3.27 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged
- Q3 2019: one accident for every 4.34 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged.
- Q4 2019: one accident for every 3.07 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged.
Data from the NHTSA show 36,096 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019, and those happen over a much shorter average driving distance than fatalities in Tesla cars. Tesla’s Autopilot saves lives. Period.