I’ve noticed a string of Tesla reports saying basically the same thing.
Drivers who survive a Tesla crash succumb to smoke and fire in a confusing escape puzzle — they’re killed by design, a planned death-trap, not the impact.
First, to set the stage of accountability Tesla early on tried to claim it would be the safest car on the road.
This was a careless prediction not a statement of fact, and it of course lulled people into false sense of duty and care about survival.
Look at the 2016 autopilot crashes and Tesla’s CEO announcement that changes were being made to bring down deaths (they didn’t, Tesla deaths increased dramatically).
A simple example of the disconnect and a long lingering problem was a 2016 high speed crash into the back of a high visibility service vehicle (flashing warning lights etc) and another one that year under a truck (decapitation) — both caused by autopilot design.
Neither are close to what safety tests are designed to rate, and they have continued to happen to Tesla drivers.
I wrote about a tragic case just the other day in 2023 that is like the exact same problem straight out of 2016.
What Tesla seems to have been doing instead of actual hard work of progress (engineering survival based on data) and preventing repeated crashes was… lazily gaming crash tests and calling their own customers dumb.
That inhumane attitude leads now into yet another uniquely Tesla tragedy. Drivers allegedly are being burned to death while unable to exit their car (a repeating and predictable event also not in the crash test).
Consider a detail in Vancouver’s under-reported investigation. A driver who was fully alert in a stopped position noticed smoke spewing from a vent. His new car doors and windows failed to open. Young and fit he immediately kicked out a window. His car is engulfed in flames within minutes.
This was not a crash, it was not a battery issue. It was just another Tesla catching fire without any warning, locking the driver inside by design. Kicking the window gives us the rare survivor perspective. Here’s how he described it:
…Jutha told the North Shore News after the fire he’d never had to use the emergency door release – a latch that the driver can pull up, located under the door panel containing the window controls – in the eight months that he owned the vehicle – a Tesla model Y 2021 – and didn’t know where to find it. Most of the other Tesla owners he spoke with after the fire also had no clue where the mechanical lever is… “What if I was an older person who couldn’t kick out the window?” he said. “It was terrifying.”
A new 2021 car spontaneously burst into flames, becoming a death trap in seconds. Who wants to be told the pinnacle of Tesla design engineering is a messy puzzle to open a door when wasted time means you die from their fire?
The danger probability brings to mind one of the early red flags on Tesla engineering culture. A factory wiring mistake caused a car to burst into flames during a dealer test drive. It wasn’t reported enough, especially because Tesla brushed it aside with an obvious “no true Scotsman” fallacy. That’s not normal.
It also brings to mind stories about Tesla sitting in dealer lots, and on dealer trucks, that burst into flames. When dealers and delivery professionals are seeing frequent fires like this, when it’s their entire job to prevent them, you can expect every driver to be in a worse position than them. Again, not normal.
Is there high alert now for every Tesla on the road? Are drivers running manual exit tests before they start every trip?
If you were a pilot would you be confident stepping into a 737MAX just by saying “I read the manual once”? An even better example might be the B26 “Widowmaker”.
Life Begins With a Checklist…and it May End if You Don’t Use It
Tesla probably should force drivers to watch a safety instructional video before every ride. This is how to unbuckle your belt, emergency exits are on your right and left, this is how to operate a door handle. Watch the whole thing every time you start the car, proving you are willing and capable of operating the exit, or no go.
Sadly Tesla drivers seem to be on the far opposite end with their “it does everything for me” attitude, buying a car to avoid using their delicate hands. Doing things is for people who didn’t drop big fantasy money for magic pumpkin rides. A Tesla consumer profile likely would never accept hours of monthly training and testing just to open a car door.
It’s like they firmly believe buying a lottery ticket from a scam artist won’t be worthless at the time of need.
Disney fantasy princess thinking should be illegal in transit safety, definitely not buoyed by irrelevant safety tests and CEO promises for things that never happen.
Second, on that note, there’s a huge buried lede in the massively over-reported 2021 Texas crash investigation. The driver died because he desperately failed to open a door.
Headlines have coldly been trying to exonerate “driverless” software, completely burying the issue.
The government report explained why an injured Tesla driver was found burned to death in the back seat. The NHTSA soberly indicated he was apparently unable to open any doors.
The frontal impact with the tree resulted in a power loss of the car’s 12-volt system… mechanically opening the rear door during a power loss requires additional steps. According to the owner’s manual, during a loss of 12-volt system power, a rear-seated occupant must locate a small cutout in the carpet beneath the seat cushions and pull the mechanical release cable tab toward the center of the vehicle to manually open the rear door.
For some reason that chilling analysis is not making headlines at all. I haven’t found anyone speaking about the trap except the investigators, who are slowly and methodically raising alarms.
We’re living in a time when journalists rush to print “robot wasn’t in charge when owner died” to catch far more eyeballs than the honest headline and warning:
“Owner died when trusted robot failed to let him escape its fire“.
The report hints at the driver being intoxicated, not just badly injured. That’s important because he wasn’t going to kick out the windows. It’s also important because Tesla may be far more to blame here than the usual drink and drive narrative.
Being too intoxicated to open a door to get out but not too intoxicated to open a door to get in…
In fact, when authorities pulled a sleeping driver from a Tesla, headlines bizarrely tried to credit the car for protecting him after enticing him to get in and go. All the credit, none of the responsibility. The driver stupidly argued he couldn’t be charged because Tesla had sold him a robot so he believed he was his own passenger.
It’s like a fairy tale of “being dumb lucky” was what sold him on the car, so he could gamble with everyone’s lives not just his own.
That brings me to the third point. I’m finding more and more evidence of high-risk owners thinking the Tesla CEO was targeting and enabling them to get crazy.
They want to be sleeping in the car while it travels on dangerous public roads at high speed. And that’s what this CEO said he was selling them.
There’s an especially bad imbalance here. The CEO pressed hard on an “easy” marketing campaign that falsely portrayed the car as safe to get into when drivers are impaired. Sleeping drivers then became a common thing with tragic results (here, here and here to start), begging the question why Tesla didn’t make it much harder to use.
On the other hand the car maker installs a complex puzzle by design that makes it basically impossible to get out of as it fails unsafe.
Getting in and going fast was engineered extensively to be trivial for someone incoherent who can’t wake up. Yet getting out before smoke and fire kill the driver? Intentionally engineered to be so difficult that even expert crash investigators are stumped after months of trying.
Read the new report from Colorado.
After more than eight months of investigating, the Colorado State Patrol has finished its investigation into a May 2022 Tesla crash and subsequent fire in Evergreen that killed one person. […] The CSP investigator writes in the report, “I am unable to conclusively determine why (Von Ohain) did not exit the vehicle.” […] Madden stressed that everyone who owns and drives an electric vehicle should the manual and know how to get out of the car if the electronics fail.
The passenger in this case was able to get out. NOT the driver.
To be clear, taxpayers funded an eight month investigation. The driver was awake and alert but was unable to open a Tesla door. His passenger exited only to watch the driver burned alive. And the report concludes…
Drivers should read the manual to avoid death in a burning box?
Eight months of digging, exploring all the data, yet safety experts still couldn’t find an answer for why a driver couldn’t exit his Tesla. Something tells me the manual won’t help. It’s a design failure that needs to be scrapped.
Being stuck like this seems exactly backwards for drivers. Getting in and getting it moving should be RTFM (read the fffing manual) whereas stopping and getting out should be designed as push button easy.
Also there’s a data security footnote from Colorado, as necessary logs were destroyed in the fire due to “remoteness”. Another Tesla design failure.
Sales of Tesla obviously are juiced by the ease of drivers getting in and driving so fast they can’t stop, but will they ever be impacted as we find why so many can’t get themselves out after a crash?
Is being a death trap somehow good for business?
And that’s not even speaking to the fact that first responders aren’t given information from Tesla needed to do forced extractions. In some cases there was no Tesla manual for people whose job is to read the manual. In other cases they were told by Tesla to crawl into the fire to find a hidden latch, when the fire was too intense to even break the window.
Anyone who has ever been on an airplane knows the public sentiment on such an important risk model. Getting out alive gets priorty over an easy ride. It’s very, very entry level transport ethics. Fail safe is the most basic level of robotics and engineering, a bar that Tesla never should have been allowed to fall below.
Tesla fails at the most basic tests of ethics, such that a rise in detailed expensive investigations of easily avoidable driver deaths should convince regulators to ban the brand.