The long-delayed Tesla Semi is on the road in small numbers. The Semi began its first deliveries to consumers in 2022. The vehicles have been delivered to only one customer – PepsiCo. Since then, the PepsiCo’s Tesla Semi fleet has grown to nearly 100 vehicles.
The Tesla Semi is a Class 8 battery electric semi truck manufactured by Tesla. Unlike Tesla’s electric cars, the Semi does not support an upgrade to Enhanced Autopilot. Enhanced Autopilot adds semi-autonomous navigation on restricted roads, self-parking and the ability to summon the car from a garage or parking space. Based on what’s happened with their cars, that’s a good thing. The Semi has all the hardware necessary to support an enhanced autopilot.
Tesla drivers are the most prone to accidents, according to a LendingTree analysis of 30 car brands. It found that Tesla drivers are involved in more accidents than drivers of any other brand. Tesla drivers had 23.54 accidents per 1,000 drivers. Ram (22.76) and Subaru (20.90) were the only other brands with more than 20 crashes per 1,000 drivers for each brand.
This was not a causal study. the study did not analyze the cause of an incident. But it comes amid news that Tesla recently recalled more than 2 million Tesla cars for a safety issue related to its Autopilot software — specifically, a feature called Autosteer, which is part of the driver assistance system. The recall affects nearly all cars Tesla has sold in the United States.
Tesla, the maker of electronic cars, is the most valuable car company in the world. It is headed by Elon Musk, the richest man in the world. He has long envisioned vehicles that are fully autonomous and has been pushing the envelope on this technology.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s statement says that, “in some cases, when Autosteer is activated, the visibility and reach of the feature’s controls may not be sufficient to prevent misuse of the … advanced driver assistance function.”
The recall aims to fix the system that is supposed to make sure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot. Tesla’s self-driving feature doesn’t just take over and leave the person in the driver’s seat to read a book or take a nap. The driver must be ready to step in if an issue arises that the feature cannot handle.
Some people rely too much on the function and accidents happen. The Justice Department launched a criminal investigation more than a year ago after more than a dozen accidents occurred while Tesla’s Autopilot software was running. NHTSA reviewed 956 crashes in which Autopilot was allegedly used. The agency then focused on 322 Autopilot-related accidents involving head-on collisions and crashes from possible inadvertent disengagement of the system.
Truck drivers work long hours. They are allowed to drive for 11 hours straight before taking a break. And it doesn’t matter what time of day they drive. Truck drivers can legally drive through the night if they wish. Truck drivers are usually paid by the total miles driven. In short, truck drivers’ motivations are such that they may be particularly likely to take a nap while autonomous driving takes over.
A Tesla Semi hauling a fully loaded trailer weighs approx 82,000 pounds. The average weight of a mid-size sedan is 3,400 pounds. This makes an accident with a semi more than 24 times worse than an accident with a car (kinetic energy equals mass times velocity squared).
Math can get worse very quickly. The Tesla Semi is a powerful truck. It is strong enough to carry several trailers. Semi trucks are up to four trailers are allowed to be towed and have a total weight of 400,000 lbs.
LendingTree, an online lending marketplace, allows for the collection of a lot of data. Researchers analyzed tens of millions of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quotes from November 14, 2022 to November 14, 2023.