Elon Musk complained about not being given enough credit for how many accidents Tesla Autopilot technology has prevented, as compared with those that have resulted in people dying. 

Musk was honored as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2021. He spoke about the scrutiny that his company is under, especially over the accidents that were apparently caused by the use of self-driving tech. 

Musk stated to Time, “There was something someone said to me when we started pursuing autonomy. Even if you save 90% of lives, 10% are going to sue. 

Elon Musk has complained that Tesla does not  get rewarded for lives its Autopilot technology saves but instead is blamed for people killed as NHTSA probes 12 US crashes linked to the technology that left one woman dead

Elon Musk has complained that Tesla does not  get rewarded for lives its Autopilot technology saves but instead is blamed for people killed as NHTSA probes 12 US crashes linked to the technology that left one woman dead 

“I believe it’s one those things that doesn’t reward you necessarily for the lives saved, but you will be held accountable for deaths that you haven’t saved,” he said.  

Musk is considered the richest person in the world. Tesla’s value is $1 trillion. It is more valuable than Ford Motors and General Motors. Musk sold close to $13 billion in Tesla shares over the last week. 

Tesla is the world’s leading EV manufacturer and has pushed both legacy carmakers as well as young people to switch to electric cars.

Tesla’s Autopilot technology is under investigation after being linked to 12 crashes since 2018. The NHTSA now investigates those 12 incidents. 

Jenna Monet's Tesla slammed into the back of a parked fire engine on Interstate 70 in 2019

Jenna Monet’s Tesla crashed into the backend of an unused fire engine at Interstate 70 in 2019.

Jenna Monet, 23, died when her Tesla crashed into a parked fire truck in the passing lane

Jenna Monet was 23 years old when her Tesla crashed into an parked fire truck on the right-hand side of the lane.

It has led to the families of drivers involved in fatal crashed suing the company while others take issue with Tesla allegedly ‘misrepresenting and using deceptive marketing for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving services.’ 

Most smashes involve parked emergency cars, which leads to the speculation that flashing lights could confuse Autopilot’s sensors.  

Musk insists that when it comes to self-driving technology, he has never misled or risked Tesla owner’s safety. 

Musk said to Financial Times that he believes there aren’t any CEOs on the planet who cares as much about safety as he. 

Tesla’s Autopilot makes driving safer by monitoring the surrounding vehicles and keeping it in the middle of the road.

According to the company, the car cannot drive itself. To avoid any accidents drivers must be attentive and keep their eyes on the road. 

The Tesla car was on autopilot at the time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that the Tesla car was operating on autopilot.

What is Tesla’s Autopilot? 

Autopilot employs radar and ultrasonic sensors as well as cameras to detect and perceive the surroundings around the vehicle. 

Drivers are able to see their surroundings through the sensor and camera suite. 

The company says that the onboard computer is powerful enough to process these inputs within milliseconds, making driving safer and easier.

Autopilot, a driver assist system with hands-on capabilities that can be used by attentive drivers only, is not intended for use. 

The Tesla is not made autonomous or self-driving.

Autopilot must be activated before the driver can agree to keep their hands on the wheel and take full responsibility for his/her car. 

Autopilot is automatically engaged when there is insufficient torque. This will prompt drivers to keep their eyes on the road. 

Autopilot is not available to drivers who repeatedly ignore these warnings.

Autopilot features may be disabled at will by applying brakes or steering.

The Autopilot does not function well in poor visibility.

Teslas using Autopilot, Traffic Aware Cruise Control, and Teslas hitting vehicles with Autopilot, or Traffic Aware Cruise Control, caused 11 fatalities. First responders had used flares, flashing lights or illuminated arrow boards to warn them of potential hazards. 

Tesla’s Autopilot was used to stop a firetruck which had been partially blocked off the road. It flashed its lights and it appeared that Tesla was using Autopilot. Another crash was being handled at that time by crews.

NHTSA has reported that there have been crashes since then in Laguna Beach (California), Norwalk, Connecticut, Cloverdale and Indiana, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Cochise County Arizona, Charlotte, North Carolina; Montgomery County Texas; Lansing Michigan, and Miami, Florida. 

Tesla claims that in order to activate autopilot, one must always be able to reach the wheel and take control of the system if it fails. 

A car that detects no weight on its steering wheel will send a warning to the driver, reminding them about the rule. But it does not necessarily stop the car – at least, not immediately. 

It takes about two minutes for some car enthusiast videos to notice that nobody is at the wheel. 

One crash was reported for each 4.41 million mile driven by Autopilot in the second quarter 2021, compared to 1.2 million without.

An investigation was launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January to examine 765,000 Teslas manufactured after 2014. The agency was informed that Full Self-Driving software was responsible for 12 first-responder car accidents that resulted in one death and 17 injuries.   

In Cloverdale (Indiana), in December 2019, a deadly collision occurred. Jenna Monet was a passenger and Jenna Monet, 23 years old, died after her Tesla, driven by Derrick, crashed into the back of an engine parked at a station.  

Tesla will stop driving on autopilot if it cannot detect a person's hands on the wheel. To get around it, people have been doing this - putting an item on the wheel or lodging it there - to trick it

Tesla can’t detect hands at the wheel and will not allow it to drive on its own. This is why people put items on or lodge them there to fool Tesla. 

Other drivers balanced water bottles on the steering wheel to make the car think they were still engaged with it when they weren't

Other drivers balanced water bottles on the steering wheel to make the car think they were still engaged with it when they weren't

To make it seem like they are still involved with the vehicle, other drivers placed water bottles under the steering wheel.

In one from 2019, it took the two minutes to detect no one was behind the wheel. After sending the driver an alert on screen, it then starts to beep loudly and finally slows down. 

It took the vehicle 40 seconds to stop after it was prompted. 

Tesla’s website doesn’t explain what happens when no one is driving while autopilot is activated.

“Before Autopilot can be enabled, the driver must agree to keep their hands on the wheel at all time and take full responsibility and control of the vehicle. 

“Subsequently every time that the driver activates Autopilot they are reminded visually to “keep your hands on and the wheel” it states. 


February 22, 2018, 12:00 p.m. in Culver City: A Tesla Model S hit the back of a fire truck parked at an accident in Culver City around 8:30 am on Interstate 405 using the cars Autopilot system. Tesla was traveling 65 mph and sustained’significant damage’. The firetruck was removed from service to do bodywork.

May 30, 2018 in Laguna Beach: Authorities said a Tesla sedan in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked police cruiser in Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Jim Cota claims that the officer wasn’t in the cruiser at the time of the accident. He stated that the Tesla driver was only slightly injured.

It ended up on the sidewalk with two of its passenger-side wheels.

December 7, 2019, Norwalk, CTAn 2018 Tesla Model 3 was rearended by a police vehicle while driving on Interstate 95, Norwalk, Connecticut. 

Cloverdale IN, December 29th 2019Unseen, an Indiana Tesla 2019 on Interstate 70 near Cloverdale was hit by a stationary firetruck. 

Derrick Monet (the Tesla driver) and Jenna Monet (his wife), sustained serious injuries. They were both taken to the hospital immediately for medical attention. Jenna ultimately succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

June 30, 2020 at West Bridgewater MAIn Weston Massachusetts, a Tesla driven by a man drove into a Massachusetts State Police vehicle that had been stopped on Route 24 in West Bridgewater. An on-scene trooper reported that Nicholas Ciarlone (the driver) was charged with negligent driving and that he was due in court in September 2020.

July 15, 2020 Conchise County Arizona A Tesla Model S hit an Arizona Department of Public Safety patrol car, resulting in the patrol car rear-ending an ambulance that was on the scene of an earlier car accident. Although no one sustained serious injuries, the Tesla driver was admitted to hospital with minor injuries.

August 26, 2020 Charlotte, NCTesla driver who was enjoying a movie collided with a deputy Nash County Sherriff’s Office vehicle in Charlotte. It happened on US 64 West.

Devainder Goli of Raleigh was arrested for violating move-over laws and watching TV while operating a vehicle. 

February 27, 2021, Montgomery County TexasA Tesla’s driver was able to rear-end a police cruise in Montgomery County, Texas. The accident occurred at 1:15 AM on Eastex Freeway, near East River Road. Five deputy constables sustained injuries. 

The Tesla driver was not hurt, but was taken into police custody for a DWI offense. 

March 17, 2021, Lansing MI A Tesla on autopilot crashed into a Michigan State Police car. Around 1:12am, Troopers of the Lansing Post were investigating an accident involving a Tesla and a deer near Waverly Rd.

A Tesla on autopilot crashed into the patrol car while investigating the accident. The emergency lights were on.

The troopers and the Tesla driver, a Lansing 22-year old man, were not injured on the spot. Unidentified police officer issued the man a citation, for failing to move over, and driving without a license suspended.  

April 15, 2021, Arlington, WAArlington Police Department reported that a Tesla driven by an Arlington resident struck a vehicle carrying a cop car. The incident caused’significant damage.

The incident resulted in no injuries. 

February 19, 2021 at Miami, FloridaAfter a Tesla struck a parked Miami-Dade County Department Transportation Road Ranger truck, three people were taken to the hospital. This was in response to debris from an earlier collision.

The driver of the Tesla was transported to a nearby hospital with with severe, albeit non-life-threatening, injuries.

July 10 2021 in San Diego: This Tesla was driven by a woman onto Highway 56, which had previously been closed for investigation into a fatal incident. Her Tesla collided with an unoccupied, parked highway cruiser.

She was accused of DUI and was taken into custody. Her passenger sustained injuries.

August 28, 2021, Orlando  A Tesla Model 3 struck a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser that had pulled over to help a broken-down car. Both the driver, aged 27, and his passenger sustained minor injuries. The trooper was not hurt.