Viral Video Shows Tesla Driver Asleep at the Wheel on LA Freeway with Vehicle on Autopilot
A shocking video shows a Tesla Model S appearing to burst into flames on Santa Monica Boulevard out of the blue. According to a report in the Washington Post, the video was posted on Twitter by actress Mary McCormack and has gone viral. McCormack told her followers that her husband was driving down Santa Monica Boulevard when his Tesla Model S caught fire on its own. “No accident, out of the blue…Thank you to the kind couple who flagged him down and told him to pull over. And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him,” she wrote.
A Tesla spokesman called the incident an “extraordinarily unusual occurrence.” The automaker’s investigation apparently shows that the cabin of the vehicle was not affected by the fire. They are still looking into what caused the fire. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating this incident. The agency has sent out a technical specialist to observe Tesla’s examination of the vehicle.
Vehicle Fire Statistics
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were around 174,000 highway vehicle fires in 2015, the most recent year for which those numbers are available. Those fires resulted in 445 deaths, 1,550 injuries and an estimated $1.2 billion in property damage. Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions are factors in about two-thirds of all car fires, the NFPA reports. It’s not exactly clear how many fires involve electric vehicle batteries. Tesla claims that its vehicles are 10 times less likely to experience a fire than a gas-powered vehicle.
Tesla Under Scrutiny
Tesla has been facing significant scrutiny in recent months over a series of car accident including two fatal incidents, one in California and another in Florida, involving its semi-autonomous Autopilot feature. However, so far, there have been no reported cases of batteries bursting into flames. Alistair Weaver, editor in chief of Edmunds.com, an automotive website, told CBS News that the video might mean that Tesla batteries may be less safe than thought. He said the issue might warrant more investigation.
NTSB said as far as the Los Angeles incident is concerned, the fire, which may have been exacerbated by the vehicle’s battery, is the focus of the investigation, not the vehicle’s semiautonomous system. Our Los Angeles auto defect lawyers hope the NTSB conducts a thorough investigation and hears from other consumers who might have had similar experiences.