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Posted on 04-07-2018

Tesla Model X in Autopilot Mode Just Before Fatal Crash

As my avid blog followers are already aware, I am a Baltimore Chiropractor with three Baltimore Chiropractic clinics in Baltimore, MD. We have plans to expand our operations to include Dundalk (Baltimore County) and Glen Burnie (Anne Arundel County) locations shortly, so keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming announcement.

The patients that we see in our clinics typically present with headaches, neck pain, and/or back pain. Sometimes these ailments present from athletic injuries, sometimes from repetitive strain injuries, and other times due to traumatic injuries suffered as a result of Baltimore auto accidents or Baltimore work injuries. Regardless of the cause of these injuries it is our collective goal to correctly diagnose the injuries and to begin treatment right away in order to get the injured party (patient) back to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

One of the things that I like to do is to scan the internet for stories related to automobile safety and automobile trends. As a company we treat so many Baltimore auto accident patients that I feel it is imperative that we stay up on the changes in how cars are designed and how they function on the road around us. I found a recent news story about a Model X Tesla in California that was involved in a fatal crash with a jersey wall while operating in autonomous mode. Tesla reports that this vehicle did have a human occupant behind the wheel and referred to the death as "devastating." This story is immediately on the heels of another deadly impact that I reported on a few weeks back where an autonomous Uber (this time a Volvo SUV) struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

I love technology as much as anyone else. I love the idea of a future where we depend on computers and radars and sensors to deliver us from point A to point B but what we are seeing from the early iterations of autonomous and semi-autonomous driving technology is that the safety is just not there yet. In both the Uber and now the Tesla incidents both vehicles were operating in autonomous mode with drivers behind the wheel. In both instances it is reported that drivers were distracted while operating the vehicle, either looking at their phones, or not paying close attention to other visual or audio cues being produced by their vehicles at or before the time of the impact.

Tesla has reiterated that operating their vehicles in autonomous mode still requires the driver to pay attention to their surroundings and to heed the warnings of the vehicle in order to take over at a moment's notice. Perhaps these senseless deaths could have been avoided had the vehicle operators been paying more close attention, as opposed to depending on their vehicles from keeping them safe.

The big rhetorical question is - if humans must still be on alert while operating autonomous vehicles, then why do we really need them in the first place? Is it just as a feat for human technological advancement or does it actually cut down on preventable injuries and deaths?

With this now being the second reported fatality associated with autonomous vehicles I suspect there will be more red tape thrown up which will prevent (at least temporarily) the wide spread advancement and adaptation of this technology. I think its smart that we make sure that the technology is ready for everyday driving conditions before its tested in real-world settings. To me, even one fatal crash due to an autonomous vehicle is one too many. Given the opportunity I do not believe I would own or operate a car that drove for me. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this technology in the next few years in light of these tragedies.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of a Baltimore, Catonsville, Dundalk, or Glen Burnie auto accident, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We've got your back on the road to recovery.

Dr. Gulitz

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