A recent article from Slate has brought up a rather interesting concern about electric vehicles and their wide adoption. Since electric cars tend to be a lot heavier than their combustion-powered counterparts, there is a nonzero chance that they could actually be more dangerous to pedestrians in the event of a crash. Tesla FSD could be the answer to these concerns.
There is an uncomfortable truth in the United States, and that is the fact that road fatalities are climbing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for one, noted that American road deaths soared during Q1 2022, rising 7% to 9,560 fatalities, the highest quarterly toll since 2002. The numbers are sobering, as they suggest that compared to pedestrians in countries like France and Canada, Americans are more than twice as likely to die in a crash.
There are quite a few factors behind these disturbing statistics, but one of them is believed to be the prevalence of overly large and heavy vehicles like full-size trucks and SUVs. While trucks are generally designed for work, full-sized pickups are now widely used by casual drivers to the point where some pickups barely see a day of legitimate work. SUVs are also all the rage. But while these vehicles could be quite safe for those inside them, they are a nightmare for the pedestrians that they might hit in the event of an accident.
As noted by Slate, one study actually found that the shift to SUVs over the past couple of decades ended up leading to over 1,000 more pedestrian deaths. Now, it should be noted that these large vehicles are already overly heavy with an internal combustion engine. When they are powered by a giant battery pack and equipped with electric motors, they become even heavier and a whole lot faster. The over-9,000-pound Hummer EV is the poster child of this, as the behemoth is capable of hitting highway speeds in about 3.3 seconds.
But inasmuch as these concerns are valid, heavy electric vehicles are only really just as dangerous as their drivers and safety features. Tesla has been making overly-heavy and ridiculously-fast sedans and crossovers for many years, yet its vehicles constantly rank among the safest on the road. This is due in no small part to the company’s active and passive safety features, which are standard on every Tesla that gets built at each of the company’s vehicle factories, both in the United States and abroad.
And coupled with Tesla’s FSD software, the risks for heavy electric vehicles are likely even less. Behind all the drama and smear campaigns targeted toward the advanced driver-assist system, after all, FSD is an incredibly cautious system that takes pedestrian safety as a top priority. Tests of Tesla FSD Beta releases have shown this time and time again — the system always keeps people around the car as safe as possible.
The use of systems like FSD Beta would likely be more widespread as the adoption of electric vehicles becomes more prevalent. Teslas would likely continue to be among the safest vehicles on the road, despite the company likely producing one of the heaviest vehicles on the market in the Tesla Semi. Fortunately, Tesla does seem to be open to the idea of having its software, like Autopilot, licensed to other automakers. This means that Tesla’s stellar safety systems could be rolled out to more vehicles, including those beyond the reach of the company’s products.
This, however, would require other automakers to admit that Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD are industry-leading solutions for pedestrian safety. Such an admission takes a lot of humility, and thus, is easier said than done. But the longer other automakers wait to roll out systems that are comparable to FSD or at least Autopilot, the longer pedestrians are exposed to an increasing number of electric vehicles that could indeed be too heavy and too fast in an accident.
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