Category Archives: Energy

American Business Desperate for Trains as Air Travel Falls Apart

The WSJ reports air travel reliability has deteriorated so much that business communities are scratching their head about why they can’t get on a modern high-speed train instead.

This summer’s air-travel disruptions are leading some business travelers to change plans and hit the road.

But is “hitting” deteriorating infrastructure of roads to just sit in long traffic jams any kind of real upgrade from air travel?

It says a lot that people believe stepping into the infamous security theater of a Chertoff checkpoint feels worse than driving — something incredibly stressful, dangerous and expensive. Even pilots try to warn potential customers that being in hell for up to six hours is better than American air travel.

“Drive when you can,” Tom Kubik, a retired pilot with 42 years of experience, told budgeting website Humble Dollar. “We draw a six-hour drive circle around our house. If we’re within six hours, we’re in the car. The airport experience and the hassles associated with flying these days make driving a much less stressful trip. That’s true even with gas prices where they are today.”

Rental car companies like Avis are of course ready to get behind dumping on air travel with tone-deaf logic such as this.

Opt for driving if: You dislike the crowds, lines…

Do we know what is absolutely full of awful crowds and lines?

Driving.

Based on the overall findings, the U.S. ranked as the most traffic-congested developed nation in the world, with American drivers spending an average of 41 hours a year battling traffic…

Worse, driving in America means you become far LESS safe because of crowds and lines. At least crowds and lines in airports are designed to make you safer.

The American driving model is basically a racist death trap that gets exponentially worse when things go wrong.

Aside from their weaknesses as evacuation conduits, highways are dangerous in their own right. Road accidents are a persistently high cause of fatalities in the United States. And, as the traffic jam in Virginia shows, highways are not only bottlenecks but traps. With the right circumstances—an accident, a stopped tractor trailer, the wrong kind of weather—motor vehicles can move neither forward nor back, leaving people stuck unless they abandon the limited shelter their cars offer. Worse, most emergency response is also based on motor vehicles. Stretches of highway may become largely inaccessible to ambulances or buses for evacuation, making assistance that much more difficult.

Yes, I said racist. America’s interstate highway system was a race-based design by VP Nixon (under President Eisenhower) for segregationist planners to destroy and block non-white prosperity — today experts in transit design literally call it a network of “death corridors“.

This only gets worse with racist companies like the unsafe-by-design Tesla, which pretend they are doing something innovative while obviously repeating the worst engineering mistakes in history and killing far more people.

All that sets up any intelligent business traveler to look hard at America and ask where’s the train?!

  • Economist: How trains could replace planes in Europe
  • NYT: “rail is the way to go”
  • EuroNews: “The majority of the European population would be in favour of banning short-distance flights at an EU level and taking the train instead”
  • Bloomberg: Europe Asks Travelers to Ditch Planes for Night Trains
  • BBC: How to travel by train – and ditch the plane

Unsafe by Design: More and More Teslas Catch on Fire

There have been hundreds of fires claimed due to Tesla cars, as many as 300 estimated. That’s incredible in itself. For context the Ford Pinto allegedly had a tiny fraction of that number yet caused international outrage.

More to the point, there are now at least 32 recorded fatalities due to Tesla fires (Update only five months later in 2022: now 44 recorded fatalities). Ford infamously tried to argue there were as few as 23 killed by the explosive Pinto.

How many, if not all, of these Tesla tragedies were preventable and foreshadow higher future deaths (or should I say Ford-shadow)?

Why do Tesla fires keep happening so often without far more public and detailed investigations, explanations or recalls despite similarities to the Ford Pinto?

Here are some examples in the news just the last month:

May 14, 2022

Ruiz said he received a notification on his phone that the car alarm to his Tesla Model 3 was going off. He went outside to see his car covered in smoke. He opened the back door and was met with a wall of flames. The first thing to melt, he said, was his 4-month-old’s car seat.

May 16, 2022

Components: FIRERELATED
NHTSA ID Number: 11466262
Consumer Location CINCINNATI, OH
…autopilot malfunctioned, causing the vehicle to inadvertently drive off the road, hit a tree, and then catch fire… autopsy report stated that his son died as a result of intense thermal heat and smoke inhalation.

May 19, 2022

A South Jersey motorist died Thursday night when his car ran off a highway, struck several trees and caught fire, authorities said. […] Sincavage died of his injuries and a 40-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries, police said.

May 20, 2022

Driver says car shutdown and he couldn’t open windows or doors as [“serious toxic threat”] smoke poured out his vents… “I kicked through the window and climbed out” [the car he had bought just a few months earlier].

Tesla in Vancouver spontaneously catches fire and traps the driver inside. Source: Autoevolution

May 23, 2022

Three cars were damaged in a Sunday 7:30pm fire at a Miami Tesla dealership that was caught on camera. […] Firefighters had to show up here not just once, but twice [returning at 2am Monday]. Neighbors had to call 911. Investigators say there was no foul play here.

May 23, 2022

A Tesla electric car with Missouri dealer plates burned to its chassis after hitting a fire hydrant…“It was challenging. It took a couple of hours, at least, to get the fire out.” [Brooklyn Deputy Fire Chief Mike Calhoun] said crews worked from 4:30 to about 7 a.m.

Source: Belleville News-Democrat

The dealer’s Tesla hitting a fire hydrant full of water couldn’t seem to stop burning.

A fire hydrant. FIRE hydrant.

I haven’t found any mention of this absurdly sad irony in the news, but some do emphasize the common fact that a Tesla fire tends to be extremely expensive and re-ignite for hours or even days.

In 2013 the manufacturer itself officially put it like this:

If the battery is breached, [firefighters] are told to cool it with very large amounts of water. Battery fires can take up to 24 hours to fully extinguish, according to Tesla.

“Very large amounts” eight years later is an increasing disaster, like this:

“Normally a car fire you can put out with 500 to 1,000 gallons of water,” Austin Fire Department Division Chief Thayer Smith said, per The Independent, “but Tesla’s may take up to 30,000-40,000 gallons of water, maybe even more, to extinguish the battery pack once it starts burning and that was the case here.” He added that “there is not any, at this point, any easily obtainable extinguishing agent on the market to deal with these [EV] fires.”

A recurring theme for years has been that fire crews struggle to extinguish Tesla hazards or predict when they will restart, despite all the training and massive expense to tax-payers helping safety crews prepare… the market is failing.

More firefighter distraction more of the time, with ever more water being sucked up more often is now a hallmark of a Tesla rolling into a neighborhood.

Consider also for a minute being a public servant in California distracted for three hours dumping over 20,000 gallons of water (over a month of typical fire department water usage) on this single car. Priority should be fighting wildfires during a drought to save society and instead here comes a “luxury” car manufacturer to reduce chances of survival.

I can only guess the expletives that fire fighters say when they see the environmentally disastrous Tesla on their roads, or even parked.

Maybe Tesla owners should have to pay an extra “fire department” waste fee, or be billed for being a sloppy water guzzler?

Tesla claims each fire is unique in order to avoid fixing the big underlying problem that keeps causing fires. Source: vg.no

The following news story is a good example of why all of this adds up to being a much bigger problem than Tesla ever seems to admit or take any real responsibility for…

June 12, 2022

Firefighters say the car was in a crash three weeks ago, that’s why it was parked in a junk yard in the first place. And then somehow it caught fire. Fire crews had to get creative and dig a hole to dump the car in it.

Source: NBC

Acceleration of Tesla fire risks

We’re seeing the opposite of what should be happening, despite a long runway to fix these well known and frequently reported serious fire issues.

Remember it was a year ago already that an infamous case reported a man paid $130,000 and three days after delivery his Tesla caught fire and trapped him inside fighting for his life. And that’s many years after high-profile fire during a test drive in 2016, and even longer since the string of fires among the first Teslas on the road in 2013!

Another Tesla Model S has caught fire after a crash. It’s the third widely-reported fire involving one of the all-electric plug-in luxury cars in just two months. All three fires involved some sort of accident. None of the fires occurred in undamaged vehicles, Tesla Motors pointed out.

Imagine Ford saying none of the Pinto fires occurred in undamaged vehicles. Absurd response.

Or imagine Ford saying that tragic Pinto deaths “involved some sort of accident”. No kidding.

Then ask yourself why Tesla has publicly said those things since 2013… as if the Pinto accident lessons meant nothing to Tesla management.

It displays utter contempt for human life. Like the CEO of Tesla trying to mass market (normalize) an illegal flamethrower as a toy at the same time his customers are being burned to death by fire in defective cars.

The sad fact is few people in the general public are in position to drive proper risk analysis and decisions about fire risks even in their own vehicles unless they bring some sense to a broken market (regulatory insight) as a whole. I’ve given many presentations about this going all the way back to 2016 when I correctly predicted Tesla would continue killing more and more people.

Great Disasters of Machine Learning: Predicting Titanic Events in Our Oceans of Math

Remove the incentives to overlook death tolls, add proper security analysis of the design and mitigation, and you get a clear view of danger. The risks quickly do not look “rare” as fires are preventable and far too common, which the string of news continues to prove easily.

Public over-dependence on what is ultimately very dangerous technology corrupts the process because too many are coerced into a death-trap automobile. It’s this coercive relationship, along with a no true Scotsman logical fallacy (e.g. false attempts to redefine every Tesla fire risk as unique instead of within a pattern) that the car manufacturer has peddled to avoid public scrutiny.

Ford perhaps more than anyone has proven this already, as they seemed shocked when journalists and lawyers began to convince Americans to care about fire risk and morality for a minute. Juries started to very clearly rule against the “last great unregulated business“.

Ford waited eight years because its internal “cost-benefit analysis,” which places a dollar value on human life, said it wasn’t profitable to make the changes sooner.

To be fair it wasn’t just eight years of disregarding the value of human life. Ford’s very existence hinged on well-documented extremist and hateful “cost-benefit analysis”. Nazi Germany even cited Ford as a man on their side, an inspiration to go to war against democratic government. Seriously, way back in 1925 Adolf Hitler mentioned only one American in his autobiography (Mein Kampf):

Henry Ford

The Americans serving jury duty eventually became so offended by evidence of Ford downplaying the significance of deadly vehicle fires (an obvious and odious failure of “self-regulation”) that punitive and even criminal charges were floated against the car maker.

Between 1971 and 1978, approximately fifty lawsuits were brought against Ford in connection with rear-end accidents in the Pinto. In the Richard Grimshaw case, in addition to awarding over $3 million in compensatory damages to the victims of a Pinto crash, the jury awarded a landmark $125 million in punitive damages against Ford…. On August 10, 1978, eighteen-year-old Judy Ulrich, her sixteen-year-old sister Lynn, and their eighteen-year-old cousin Donna, in their 1973 Ford Pinto, were struck from the rear by a van near Elkhart, Indiana. The gas tank of the Pinto exploded on impact. In the fire that resulted, the three teenagers were burned to death. Ford was charged with criminal homicide. The judge in the case advised jurors that Ford should be convicted if it had clearly disregarded the harm that might result from its actions, and that disregard represented a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct. On March 13, 1980, the jury found Ford not guilty of criminal homicide.

In other words the most important thing here is to not ignore any of these Tesla fires, and definitely not to falsely treat them as rare, because we have ample evidence they ARE HAPPENING MORE AND MORE GIVEN NO INTERVENTION / EXTERNAL REGULATION.

Henry Ford II, eldest grandson of Henry Ford and then head of the Ford Motor Company responded curtly. “Many of the temporary standards are unreasonable, arbitrary, and technically unfeasible,” he warned. “If we can’t meet them when they are published we’ll have to close down.” Despite these foreboding predictions, in the years since these safety measures were passed, the number of deaths from automobile accidents in the US has fallen from 5.50 per 100m vehicular miles travelled in 1966, to 3.34 in 1980. By 2015 that number was down to 1.12. Over that time, an estimated 613,000 lives have been saved. (A separate study puts the number at 3.5 million.) …well-designed regulations had the effect of helping national industries innovate and remain competitive internationally.

At the current rate the anti-regulation Tesla will perhaps end up accused of the criminal homicide that Ford escaped. Already we’ve seen Tesla owners charged with vehicular manslaughter by operating the vehicle in the manner promoted by the manufacturer, so why not bring charges for being unsafe by design?

Tesla can’t be trusted to figure this out

Here’s some speculation on why Tesla engineering is so poor and its fire problems are getting worse over time instead of better.

1. Flawed design (lack of engineering integrity)

First, the effect of the Pinto precedent on gasoline cars has been that their fires almost never tend to be due to design flaws (less than 1%). There’s tons of research on this subject already.

That very important lesson and result apparently flew out the window when product managers at Tesla dis-regulated themselves. Basic engineering principles, basic ethics, were dropped and the exact opposite happened when Tesla brought yet another electric car to market.

Since 2013 the Tesla fires ALL are going in the opposite direction of progress, and somehow seem related to design flaws, including fire from crashes (e.g. proof they ignore the Pinto precedent).

A whipsaw from 1% of tragic Pinto fires due to design flaws all the way to something approaching 100% of tragic Tesla fires due to design flaws… allegedly just because the latter car is electric should be seen as a B.F.D. in safety modeling.

Electrical fires blamed on design is a HUGE shift, a terrible indicator that something will get much worse much faster. The safety norm of designing to save lives, working since the 1980s, apparently has died in a Tesla fire. It’s like the company CEO took the exact wrong lesson from Henry Ford news.

Source: NYT

Seriously, Ford backed Hitler.

Fast forward to the allegedly racist CEO at Tesla and it’s surely no accident that Elon Musk brags “he is leaning toward backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)” a mud-slinging hate-filled politician:

…has a clear, repeated pattern of making offensive and/or outright racist statements, hanging out with racists, and defending other people who are also racists.

In fact, this overtly racist DeSantis used his moment “hanging out with racists” such as Elon Musk to take a stab at Blacks by replying that a big endorsement from a white man who profited directly from apartheid South Africa was being recorded by his campaign as “welcome support from African-Americans”.

Awful.

Is there any real accountability for Tesla failing basic safety, under a manifestly unkind CEO, and moreover for failing to heed basic history and to save lives when others have shown how to do it? Many millions of vehicles these days are being recalled due to fire risks.

Take for just one obvious example GM recalling every Chevy Bolt (an excellent and very safe electric car) and then reporting a major sales boost due to transparency and regulation.

Source: NHTSA

How many within the recent explosion in Tesla recalls follow a modern industry safety pattern giving the same or even similar transparency around serious fire danger?

Source: NHTSA

Any?

Read the hundreds and hundreds of complaints against Tesla, let alone the numerous investigations, where there seems to be no transparency or response from Tesla. You’ll find things like a father’s deep soul-wrenching appeal a few days ago (NHTSA Complaint #11466262), just one of HUNDREDS of people begging regulators to do something to stop Tesla disaster after disaster:

…autopsy report stated that his son died as a result of intense thermal heat and smoke inhalation.

Sad and tragic, like a Ford Pinto. But it gets worse because Tesla dealers are watching multiple cars on their lot go up in flames just sitting there. That is pretty much the total opposite of what recall safety expectations are supposed to be for design flaws. If the dealer itself can’t even predict, detect or prevent a serious Tesla fire in a Tesla parking lot… then nobody can.

2. Liar, liar, car is on fire (lack of management integrity)

Tesla management very intentionally lies about safety. They had to close their PR department after everyone quit in protest — it was obvious unwanted criminal liability to hire career professionals yet force them to lie all the time. Who can forget ethics canaries like this one?

Elon Musk demanded that Tesla stop testing brakes on June 26. Doug Field, chief engineer, resigned on June 27. Is this a coincidence? Of course not—Doug Field doesn’t want to be responsible for killing people.

Lack of integrity is inherent to the company culture, constantly coming from the CEO. Plain and simple you can’t trust a word they say, but who gets held accountable?

Shortly after Tesla called its cars in 2013 the safest ever a Model S caught fire and there were fatalities from “veering” into opposite lane.

Another high-profile example of this is their fraudulent “autopilot”. The company often attempts to say autopilot wasn’t at fault in crashes when they know it failed. That’s because they’re gaslighting, bending truth to the point we might as well just go ahead and label them liars. There’s a persistent failure to grasp safety issues that regulators are only just starting to hone in on.

“On average in these crashes, Autopilot aborted vehicle control less than one second prior to the first impact,” the NHTSA said.

Aborting control less than a second before impact is a serious safety design flaw. Saying autopilot isn’t to blame for the impact because it aborted control is sick and twisted logic. I’ve written before about persistent lying throughout the automobile industry, as have others. Once again, the Pinto story is relevant here since Ford lied egregiously.

[Death from fire] is no news to Ford. Internal company documents in our possession show that Ford has crash-tested the Pinto at a top-secret site more than 40 times and that every test made at over 25 mph without special structural alteration of the car has resulted in a ruptured fuel tank. Despite this, Ford officials denied under oath having crash-tested the Pinto.

3. Car fires always were electric (lack of social media integrity — vague safety regulation)

Third, fires in gasoline cars are often due to electrical systems.

It’s odd to hear electric car companies socialize the idea that gasoline cars catch fire, without disclosing that they’re still talking about electrical system fires. In fact, the data show electrical fires to be the second most common cause of fires.

So if you take maintenance-related fuel leaks out of the equation, electrical fires already are a HUGE problem, foreshadowing the critical need to NOT ignore Tesla’s Pinto-like design failures or treat them as rare.

Every time someone from Tesla tries to cite rate of fires in gasoline automobiles you immediately should educate them with “electrical systems are a top cause of fires in cars already yes — even gas ones — but at least some electrical design processes prioritize safety unlike yours“.

In conclusion, if electrical systems are already basically the top cause of vehicle fires and then you add in an anti-regulation company like Tesla that removes the most important lessons of the Pinto (negligently opens the flood-gates to design-related electrical system flaws and fires) how is this not a predictable disaster with preventable deaths?

Nobody should drive a Tesla.

Nobody should ride in a Tesla.

This car manufacturer poses constant unnecessary danger to the public. By comparison I’d say a company like Mercedes has showed everyone how to do the right thing with a massive fleet-wide stop order to 300,000 owners.

However, even such a bold move wouldn’t be safe enough for anyone near a Tesla because its design flaws remain a threat even standing still — catch on fire while parked doing nothing.

Teslas are so unsafe by design they need to be picked up (on something that can contain a toxic re-igniting fire in transit) and returned to a place that can afford to put out incredibly resource-intensive fires en masse.

This is obviously some of the worst engineering in history if not the absolute worst. A car designed to fail.

And on that note I’m happy to drive an electric car. I’m even ok driving a gasoline car that has electric systems in it. But I do not and will not (since 2016, when my own tests proved it completely unsafe) drive or ride in something as poorly designed as a Tesla.

Tank-Busting Electric Bikes in Ukraine are Predictably Awesome

Daniel Tonkopi, the Ukrainian CEO of Delfast, says permission has been granted to officially discuss deployment of his product into war:

Delfast has been providing electric bikes to the Ukrainian Army since the first day of the war. We transferred electric bikes to the front line, but we did not talk about it—we do some things quietly. Now we’ve gotten permission from the command, and we’re publishing these pictures.

Really we’re talking about motorcycles, yet for some reason people don’t like emphasizing the motor when using the phrase “electric bikes”.

If they did it might help with historic context of bicycles used in war for an extremely long time, as I’ve written here before.

Even more to the point, two-wheeled innovation in irregular war technology goes all the way back at least to the 1800s — over a century of bikes used in war with and without motors.

That being said, the photos posted by Tonkopi fit the well-tread path of bikes being light, agile, invisible and thus well-suited to haul heavy equipment around the front lines as we’ve seen since at least WWI.

Source: Daniel Tonkopi
Source: Daniel Tonkopi

Tonkopi provides classic motor head talking points on his post along with these images.

– #1 in the world in terms of range, we’re the current Guinness World Record holder
– #1 fastest electric bike in the world, acknowledged by Forbes for two years in a row, 2021 and 2022
– #1 all-terrain electric bike, acknowledged by Business Insider for two years in a row, 2021 and 2022
– Bonneville Speed Record holder among electric bikes

He doesn’t cite the range but it was indeed very impressive, especially since any serious bike rider would unlikely ever ride more than 100 miles in a day.

That massive (by electric bicycle standards) battery is what allowed it to set the new 367 km (228 mi) record for the longest distance traveled by an electric bicycle on a single charge. Of course the average speed of 21.5 km/h (13.5 mph) during the record attempt certainly helped.

The hidden subtext is long range correlates to high power for large loads, such as anti-tank weapons carried for a 50 mile trip to the front lines and back.

Thus what’s missing from these pictures and classic WWII “long-lines” talking points is a next generation of electric bike “cargo” design. The box frames provide even more capability for equipment as well as battery size. More gear for more range, what’s not to like.

Source: Riese & Mueller

To be honest suspension of a cargo load isn’t up for big drops (yet) and bottoming the frame on a berm can be pain…. Nonetheless, the box definitely hauls major loads so ask me how many stealth tank-busting drones or counter-drones could swarm straight off a R&M Load 75 into a deadly loiter position?

Armored box up front, flip switch to open bay doors, press fire and ride away. It’s like a ground force having a mobile launcher for its own mini air force.

The mash-up is less fantasy as it might seem, given bikes have been getting air force technology infused into them for a while.

Range was specifically called out as a factor in 2014 by War is Boring, when it profiled special operator “stealth” bike innovation coming from secret drones.

…the propulsion system Logos plans to use in the stealth bike already powers a drone. A secret drone. We asked about the conditions the bike might encounter. What kind of damage are the companies designing the bike to take? “We have not encountered a military-use scenario that is more brutal to a vehicle than, say, the Erzberg Rodeo, or casing a 120-foot jump,” a BRD official told us. “We’re likely to see fewer large-scale land operations and more smaller, distributed tactical forces operating autonomously and at extended range from supply and logistical centers,” Logos added. “This vehicle is envisioned to allow special operators to conduct their missions with the ability to travel long distances, rapidly, over unforgiving terrain, while remaining undetected by hostile forces.”

That’s all water under the bridge now since Delfast is clearly proving bikes not only able to meet objectives but essential to modern irregular war, as everyone should have expected.

A 2017 article “Without a Motorcycle in Kandahar, ‘You Are Like a Prisoner’” was foreshadowing of how the Afghan war would be won and lost by distributed/localization networks, hit & run tactics, and terrain advantages.

Something tells me this is poetic justice, since Russians ignored all of the warning signs in true copy-cat fashion — like Detroit in the 1950s thought squeezing gas-guzzling air force engines into American muscle cars as a show of power somehow would turn out better than supply chain crisis after supply chain crisis.

Tesla Safety Negligence Finally Goes to Court: “Sore Thumb” of American Roads

Quality of Tesla vehicles has been notoriously bad for years, and has been trending worse, which should be little surprise given how poorly it treats human life (from its workers and its customers to anyone in or around their product).

Now top experts in automobile safety, who finally are getting some attention, aren’t mincing words about the sad danger a Tesla poses to everyone on the road.

“Tesla sticks out like a sore thumb,” said David Friedman, who was deputy and acting administrator of NHTSA from 2013 to 2015. “And it has for years.” [Heidi King, a deputy and acting administrator of NHTSA during the Trump administration added] “I really dislike a lot of what Tesla has done, and at the top of the list in bright, bold letters, is Elon Musk’s habit of making false public claims… visionary exaggerations about a consumer product can be very, very dangerous.”

Liar, liar Elon Musk’s customers are literally dying in fires.

One of the reasons Musk has become an obvious “sore thumb” of safety is explained by his bully mindset of doing harm: to do wrongs until someone can afford to stop him in court.

“In the US, things are legal by default,” Musk said.

A public automobile company showing intent to commit crimes unless someone can catch them is the worst possible CEO statement.

“Things” are not simply legal by default.

To put it another way, in the US cannibalism is legal by default. So is Elon Musk’s next business idea going to be grinding the rising number of his dead customers into hamburger? Something technically legal DOES NOT mean you won’t be convicted of a related crime.

“We essentially have the Wild West on our roads right now,” Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the NTSB, said in an interview. She describes Tesla’s deployment of features marketed as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving as artificial-intelligence experiments using untrained operators of 5,000-pound vehicles. “It is a disaster waiting to happen.”

The Wild West killed a LOT of innocent people, especially because of men like Stanford when you think about it. I mean Silas Soule was a very notable exception who became more like the American rule but only much later.

But I digress. Tesla is not a disaster just waiting, it already happened!

Let’s play spot the disaster. Here are the death rate stats for electric cars.

Source: tesladeaths.com

I warned very loudly about the disaster we are now in for at least six years prior. My 2016 keynote presentation about Tesla death at BSidesLV was literally called “Great Disasters of Machine Learning“.

Elon Musk long ago signaled disaster as his business model and I saw it right away after the first road death was reported April 2, 2013.

Tesla was leaving Laguna Beach and veered into oncoming traffic

Veering across lines into oncoming traffic is not “legal by default” yet it seems that Tesla must believe it to be a profitable business model for America, given their vehicles have become notorious for doing exactly that.

April 8, 2022 (nearly TEN YEARS later) we see repetitive failures in safety.

Little remains of a Tesla and its driver in 2022 after it veered yet again into oncoming traffic

Things may change, however, given that a court is finally going to help Tesla owners see just how many unsafe “things are legal by default”.

A US federal judge’s ruling paves the way for a trial in July, the first time Tesla will face a jury in litigation over a car crash. The electric car-maker faces a flurry of lawsuits over a spate of accidents… Barrett Riley, 18, was at the wheel of his father’s Model S when he lost control and veered into a concrete wall of a house in Fort Lauderdale. The car was engulfed in flames. Riley and his friend in the passenger seat were both killed. The father, James Riley, alleged in a lawsuit that Tesla was negligent for removing a speed-limiting device from the car after his wife had asked for it to be installed. The after-market device was designed to cap the car’s speed at 85mph. The family also argued that Barrett could have survived the impact of the crash but lost his life because of the intense fire, which the suit attributes to a defective design in the battery.

Defaults give an interesting framing for this court case.

Why was the default top speed so far above any legal limit? The family tried to set a safe mode by requesting Tesla enable their built-in speed limiter (“loaner” mode with an 85 mph max). Allegedly Tesla later removed the setting to override parents’ explicit request, which led directly to the predictable death of their child.

Tesla’s argument for why they intentionally disobeyed parents was… because they could. A toddler-level mentality of safety, if not a conspiratorial one. When parties A and B come to a service provider with conflicting requests, Tesla very clearly took sides: serving the (reckless abandon) one and not the (safer, wiser, legal) other.

Two footnotes also may be worth adding.

First, this Tesla also operated with two un-repaired recalls at the time of its crash; unrelated to the cause of death yet it still gives evidence of Tesla being not on top of safety.

Second, the car continuously re-ignited into fire. It was on fire when police arrived. It then caught on fire again when it was put on a tow truck. It then caught on fire again when it was put on a second tow truck. And it then caught on fire again when it was unloaded from the second tow truck. That’s significantly worserush to market” thinking than even the Pinto disaster.

The lawsuits brought by injured people and their survivors uncovered how the company rushed the Pinto through production and onto the market. […] Ford officials decided to manufacture the car even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank. Did anyone go to Mr. Iacocca and tell him the gas tank was unsafe? “Hell no,” replied an engineer who worked on the Pinto. “That person would have been fired. Safety wasn’t a popular subject around Ford in those days. With Lee it was taboo.” As Lee Iacocca was then fond of saying, “Safety doesn’t sell.”

Does anyone really want to buy a sore thumb?

How to Stop Bicyclists From Running Stop Signs

The obvious answer to how to stop bicyclists from running stop signs is… remove the requirement for bicycles to stop at the sign.

Done.

Seriously, though, stop signs are a function of cars being low to the ground with limited visibility, hard to stop and hard to maneuver in an intersection. None of that is true for bicycles, which put the rider up high with unobstructed views and ultra-fast stopping and turning.

A bicycle entering a 4-way road stop has about as much need to stop as a car entering a four lane roundabout, virtually none although there are the occasional times when it’s necessary. And let’s be honest, the flow of not stopping (roundabouts) is significantly safer than stopping (intersections).

According to studies done by the Federal Highway Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, roundabouts resulted in a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions, 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, 90 percent reduction in fatality crashes and 75 percent reduction in injury collisions.

90% reduction in fatality crashes when allowing people to roll into intersections instead of trying to stop them with a sign…

You can perhaps see why stop signs make about as much sense for road safety on bicycles as requiring car drivers to stuff a chamois in their pants for safety.

A “chamois” is a European mountain-goat-like animal, and the first chamois was made from actual chamois skin.

Also bicycles incur a massive cost to the rider when stopping without a need to be stopping.

Car drivers just empty their wallets and burn gallons of gas without a second thought while the cyclist often actually cares about wasted energy, ergo a big reason for being on a bicycle in the first place.

It comes to mind when reading the Colorado news that drivers are losing their mind when bicycles ride through an empty intersection without stopping.

“We’ve certainly seen some disgruntled drivers who think this is just going to cause chaos on our streets, and we just don’t think that aligns with reality,” Todd said of the new law. “The reality is that many bicyclists do this already. This is legalizing a common behavior. The bicyclists know it will be safer for them. Bicyclists can only proceed when they already have the right of way.”

Exactly. When you have right of way on a bicycle you use that right. Rolling is not a crime.

Car drivers nonetheless may go to absurd lengths to stoke fear about what could happen when bicycles are simply allowed to do what is sensible and right, which definitely comes out in the article.

“I can see a cyclist rolling up behind me as I begin to make a right turn and plowing into me, or I run over them as they cruise through the stop sign.”

This is the voice of someone who treats their vehicle as power and dominance where “right of way” feels to them like justification for killing others in their path, instead of operating with a duty of care.

No cyclist wants to plow into anything and likewise no driver should be thinking they will run over people.

If a cyclist is approaching a stop with a car already stopped, or if a cyclist is approaching a car about to make a right turn… the cyclist should NOT proceed (and in nearly 100% cases would not) because of the OBVIOUS harm to self and others in doing so. The concept of rolling through a stop on a bicycle is as simple as rolling on any road that is CLEARLY UNOBSTRUCTED. When any obstruction appears, bicyclists are not seeking some kind of special power over others in the way that car owners often do.