“Stunning, but sadly no longer surprising video was posted on Tik Tok this week of what appears to be three 20 something guys, indulging in alcoholic beverages while their Tesla – with no one in the driver’s seat – barrels down the highway.
It is the latest thumbing of the nose to the NHSTA, who has repeatedly failed to meaningfully address how Tesla’s Autopilot has played a role in several fatal crashes across the nation.”
Tesla using “autonomous vehicle technology” crashes into parked highway patrol vehicle and ambulance.
“A Tesla on Autopilot smashed into the back of a patrol vehicle on the side of the road near Benson, Arizona today, according to Arizona’s Department of Public Safety Twitter feed….”We can confirm the driver indicated to troopers the Tesla was on autopilot at the time of the collision….The impact caused the patrol vehicle to collide with the back of an ambulance, but fortunately the occupants of the ambulance weren’t injured. The driver of the Tesla had non-life-threatening injuries.”
You can see the Tesla using “autonomous vehicle technology” swerve and lock wheels as it approaches the pedestrian, then release brakes and pile head-on into an overturned truck.
“Recall, earlier this year the NTSB revealed that Autopilot had played a role in a fatal 2019 Model 3 accident in Delray Beach, Florida.
The driver had set the car to go 69 miles per hour 12.3 seconds before the crash took place on a highway that had a speed limit of 55 mph, according to Bloomberg. The NTSB also revealed that the driver’s hands were not on the wheel for the final 7.7 seconds before the crash.
The NTSB had also arrived at similar findings regarding a 2016 Florida crash where another Tesla driver didn’t react to a truck in the roadway. In that instance, the NTSB found that Tesla’s Autopilot design contributed to the cause of the accident.”
Do these reports of accidents caused while using driverless vehicles or “autonomous” vehicle technology concern you? Do you know that Tennessee Republicans made it impossible for your local county or municipal government to do anything about them operating on the roads you pay for? Here’s how it happened:
Tennessee District 35 Representative Jerry Sexton first took office in 2015 as part of the 109th General Assembly. As a freshman legislator, one of his first sponsored bills was HB0616 which prohibited county and local governments from making any ordinances or statutes regulating operation of a vehicle in their boundaries using what was then called “autonomous vehicle technology”. A pretty strange topic for a freshman legislator from a rural district. Why would Rep. Sexton feel that autonomous vehicle technology was being unreasonably assaulted by his neighbors and needed some form of protection back in 2015? I am willing to bet that exactly ZERO Grainger and Claiborne county constituents were requesting this legislation. So how did the bill originate? Who “gave” it to Sexton to sponsor? Who was it supposed to benefit in the future – knowing that people WOULD eventually want to control killer robot cars that crash themselves and spontaneously combust after the lithium batteries are punctured like Tesla vehicles have many times been shown to do? At the time, a handful of Republicans argued in support of this bill and stated that this type of technology already existed – citing technology such as proximity sensors in bumpers or parallel park assist. The bill seemed like a solution in search of a problem. No locality in Sexton’s district was trying to prohibit vehicles with backup cameras, proximity alerts or park-assist. However, these legislators so concerned about “autonomous vehicle technology” completely ignored other existing autonomous vehicle technology such as large trucks with compression or “jake” brakes which actually ARE discriminated against by county/local governments. Plenty of towns still have their “No Jake Brakes” signs, including those in Rep. Sexton’s district (see Highway 25E northbound entering Tazewell for example) – a “state highway” where allegedly this bill would protect autonomous vehicle technology as it was sold. This is also proof his constituents didn’t and still don’t believe in the principle of the original “autonomous vehicle technology” bill. It is proof the TNGOP was not really defending autonomous technology that pre-existed – because they have never removed these prohibitions IN THEIR OWN DISTRICTS.
Once successfully tying the hands of the people with Sexton’s freshman bill, the redefinition of “autonomous vehicle technology” has changed to reveal the true purposes and what corporate interests would benefit from future bills. If you watch the very first video in Transportation sub-committee, Sexton mentions Google as a beneficiary that was in process of driverless vehicle experimentation, but it was carefully not described to the committee members voting on the bill. They would have had to read the bill – I know, a foreign concept in modern legislative bodies – to see the plain language:
“For purposes of this section, “autonomous technology” means technology installed on a motor vehicle that has the capability to drive the motor vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator.”
So we were not talking AT ALL about park assist, braking assist, or proximity sensors in your bumper, but full-on driverless robot cars. It was a lie and the Republicans who deceived their fellow legislators on this bill (knowing that they would not read the bill and just vote for whatever their Republican party apparatus told them was “their bill”) were revealed for the corporate shills they are. Apparently there was a need to remove the liberty of all Tennesseans to regulate robot cars on the local roads they fund – before they existed.
If you watch the first consideration of the bill in the Transportation sub-committee, Rep. John Ragan of Oak Ridge pipes up in support of the bill and how important it is to Oak Ridge with the biggest supercomputer in the world, blah, blah, blah. Completely hiding the true nature of the bill:
Rep. David Alexander (R-Winchester) asks Sexton what “autonomous vehicle technology” is. Sexton is unable to explain what “autonomous vehicle technology” even is and says “that’s a good question”. This bill isn’t his idea. It isn’t his constituents’ concept. Nobody requested this from his District. Rep. John Ragan has to hand Sexton a slip of paper with a definition of what autonomous vehicle technology is for Sexton to read BECAUSE HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE BILL HE IS SPONSORING IS FOR. It is admitted that this phrase means vehicles with no human in control of them – or necessarily even in the vehicle – not vehicles with existing technology such as parking assist or proximity sensors as was presented in sub committee. Rep. Alexander then asks Rep. Sexton “Where did this bill come from?” Rep. Sexton then states that “this bill was given to me by Senator Kelsey.” Nothing particularly nefarious about that. Every bill has to originate in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and requires a sponsor in each house. The bigger question is, why pick a freshman representative to run this bill or rather, have Rep. Ragan pull his puppet strings? Why use District 35 representation to pass something they have ZERO interest in?
Alexander then correctly takes the people’s side of liberty as he represents his constituents and not Google’s corporate interests and states: “Every day up here almost it seems like I’m having to choose between the state dictating to our local, you know, entities or not and I just believe that uh, the people in Tennessee that live in their homes should have the right to decide how they want to live in their homes and what their laws are around their homes. So, I sometimes think that state government acts as Big Brother and I have a big problem with that.”
Boy, did he nail it on the head! Just think of what these legislator’s view of Google and Alphabet Corp. might be today? But, too late, you already sold us out to fill in the failed Hemlock Semiconductor corporate welfare boondoggle in Clarksville with Big Brother Google.
Then Rep. Eddie Smith questions if there are any existing regulations for these technologies and likens the technology of his cell phone that can erroneously decide to make calls on its own to unproven robot cars that could go “haywire”. He questions if the legislature is being premature in forcing the acceptance of robot cars with unproven technology that the bill would leave wide open since there are no standards or requirements for the autonomous technology except current road rules and regulations, which do not address them at all. Sexton again admits this bill is to serve Google and prevent balking on their investment in Tennessee if they cannot have free reign use of their robot cars across the state. He then refers Smith to a youtube video, that he doesn’t have the title or link to, where you could watch a 90% blind individual “drive” from home to Hardee’s to get a biscuit. I guess there was a big demand for that in Grainger County and Germantown.
Terri Lynn Weaver politely expresses concern similar to Rep. Smith and requests if Rep. Sexton would consider moving the bill to summer study. Sexton questions what summer study is and says he has heard that is where bills go to die (typically that is true). He is willing to entertain sending the bill to summer study as long as the bill would be heard next year. He doesn’t care about the “urgency” of Google’s corporate welfare, BECAUSE IT ISN’T HIS BILL. Chairman Matlock then comes to the rescue of the Google Corporate Shills and suggests moving the bill to the last calendar of the year so people can get better informed on the vague bill and ensure it gets passed this session. This last committee meeting is two weeks later and the bill passes the full Transportation committee with little resistance although Rep. Joe Armstrong and Rep. Alexander have the only comments in opposition and Rep. Sexton again demonstrates his misunderstanding of his own bill in that it ties the hands of every county and local entity in the state. Even at this point he thinks it only applies to state highways, despite the brevity and plain language of the bill (that he didn’t write).
The bill then eventually proceeds to the full House to be voted on for the third time, conforming to Kelsey’s Senate version of the bill for final vote. You can watch that video here and see how Beth Harwell, House clerk “Smokin” Joe McCord and Rep. Matlock ramrod the bill through, literally telling Rep. Sexton what to say on video. This is how the sausage is made folks.
On the Senate side, there was virtually no opposition. Kelsey also tried to sell this as already existing technology by using the parallel parking feature. He admitted on video that he had no knowledge of any place that was prohibiting this technology in Tennessee (i.e., there was no problem for this “solution”). Jim Tracy joked about how his wife thought he needed a driverless car and also thought Frank Nicely should have one. Maybe they would be interested in a Tesla 3 autopilot ride. Hopefully it wouldn’t drive them into a bridge abutment and explode like has happened to others. But hey, they “meet all safety requirements”! Now, you will be interested to know about bills introduced in later legislative sessions that have modified this robot car idea after Representative Sexton and Senator Kelsey laid the foundation for Google corporate welfare. There have been multiple attempts to excuse the robot cars from requirements that you as a taxpayer are forced to comply with to operate your vehicle on the road – such as the registration and proof-of-insurance documents required of you to be able to produce at any time to a “law enforcement” officer. And seatbelt requirements for the operators of the driverless cars – where you operating your own vehicle are responsible for not only yourself and all passengers in the vehicle (unless you are driving a public school bus – “for the children”) but the robot car operator is not responsible. I may write about those in a future post.