Tesla Driver Who Trusted ‘Autopilot’ Charged With Killing A Motorcyclist


Tesla Driver Who Trusted 'Autopilot' Charged With Killing A Motorcyclist

The scene of an accident involving a Tesla and a motorcycle on July 24, 2022 near Draper, Utah.

An accident involving a Tesla and a motorcycle on July 24, 2022 near Draper, Utah.
Image: Utah Department of Public Safety

A 28-year-old motorcyclist died in Washington State on Friday afternoon because a dipshit Tesla driver rear-ended him at speed. A Snohomish man, 56, was commuting in his 2022 Tesla Model S when he activated the car’s camera-based advanced driver assist system and according to his statements to police, began looking through his phone. With nobody paying attention to the car’s actions, the Tesla software ignored Jeffrey Nissen on his motorcycle and continued on at speed. The car rear-ended the two-wheeler, Nissen was flung from the bike, and his life ended pinned underneath the electric car, where he was still lodged when police arrived to the scene.

The Tesla driver, who told police he was “putting the trust in the machine to drive for him,” was inattentive to the road in front of him, and was only brought back to reality when he “heard a bang as the car lurched forward.” The driver was not impaired by drugs or alcohol, though he admitted to having an alcoholic beverage prior to the 3:54 p.m. crash.

Local news reports say the driver was using “Autopilot” rather than “Full Self-Driving” though the two systems are often conflated. The current FSD software requires drivers to keep their eyes up on the road for the system to remain active, where Autopilot doesn’t seem to require this. Autopilot is little more than lane keep assist paired with a camera-based cruise control system.

Tesla will claim that it isn’t culpable for the incident, as the official line is that its so-called Autopilot and Full Self-Driving software are “intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and are prepared to take over at any moment.” The company and its CEO, however, have knowingly engaged in public discussion describing the cars as “driving themselves” and the people buying these cars believe them. This isn’t even the first time a “self-driving” Tesla has run over a motorcyclist.

The Tesla driver, who is not named, was booked into the Snohomish County Jail with a charge of Vehicular Homicide. He posted a $100,000 bail on Sunday.

According to a survey by Forbes, 93 percent of Americans have concerns about self-driving car safety, and 61 percent say they wouldn’t trust a self-driving car. But when it comes to Tesla “beta testing” this half-baked software on our public streets, we don’t get the legal opportunity to challenge it. Some Tesla drivers get to risk the lives of everyone around them because they paid for the privilege. The system can’t even see a fucking motorcyclist.