We spotted an interesting piece of dashcam footage over the weekend posted by Dash Cam Owners Australia. A Tesla Model 3 smashed into the back of a stationary vehicle at a set of traffic lights.
While the comments lit up with suggestions the safety systems should have prevented the crash, there’s actually a very simple reason why in this case, the car never stood a chance of stopping.
Tesla moved away from using radars within their vehicles for cruise control and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and now relies solely on camera vision for everything from detecting stationary objects for the purposes of cruise control to emergency braking.
Every car on the road, regardless of whether it uses a radar or camera vision for crash mitigation, is designed to override the safety systems (even in the event of an imminent crash) if the vehicle’s throttle is pressed.
In this piece of footage you can see the driver looking away from the road toward the central display with one hand on near the central display and one hand on the steering wheel (is it legal to drive with one hand?). At the same time, the driver’s vision is also blinded by the sunlight hitting their face as they glance down.
It’s at this moment the Tesla Model 3 runs into the back of the vehicle stationary at the traffic lights.
Just prior to the collision the car would have been flashing a warning to the driver to alert them of a stationary vehicle approaching, but with the throttle pressed, the car would have continued toward the object and not attempted to brake.
A similar incident happened recently to another Tesla user, but with a different outcome. In footage now deleted from Facebook, the Tesla driver’s vehicle initiated an emergency stop because it mistakenly thought a pedestrian not within the path of the vehicle was going to step on the road.
Because the driver didn’t have the initiative to override the emergency stop with the throttle, it caused a chain reaction that resulted in the car behind them crashing into them after following too closely.
So it’s worth knowing if you are driving a modern car today – you can always override safety systems by applying throttle. If, for whatever reason you take your eyes off the road and still have the throttle pressed, know that the vehicle won’t stop, even if you’re hurtling toward a stationary object.