Just a day after it was reported that a man was killed in a tragic accident involving a Tesla Motors Model S electric vehicle, more details surrounding the circumstances of the incident are coming to light. As Tesla has stated repeatedly when it comes to using Autopilot, it’s the responsibility of the driver to maintain control of the vehicle at all times.
Eyewitness reports and police officials that were on the scene immediately after the crash have added some much needed clarity. Frank Baressi, the driver of the truck that Joshua Brown's Model S crashed into, said that a Harry Potter movie was still playing inside the vehicle after the collision.
“Harry Potter [was playing] on the TV screen,” said Baressi in an interview with the Associated Press. "It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road.”
Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Kim Montes confirmed Baressi’s account of the events that occurred in an interview with Reuters, adding that an aftermarket DVD player was installed in the vehicle and was found in the wreckage.
The car was traveling at a high rate of speed, and just so happened to hit right between the rear wheels of the semi-truck and the wheels of the trailer, which is why it made it so far down the road after the initial impact. If Brown was distracted by a movie while driving, that would explain why he didn't notice something as large and obvious as a tractor trailer slowly turning in front of him.
Tesla already said that the Autopilot system “[didn’t notice] the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.” In that case, it was up to the driver to make the call to apply the brakes in what should have been an easily avoidable situation (or at least one that may have still resulted in a collision, but not a fatal one).
“Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” wrote Tesla in a blog posting yesterday concerning the accident. “Nonetheless, when used in conjunction with driver oversight, the data is unequivocal that Autopilot reduces driver workload and results in a statistically significant improvement in safety when compared to purely manual driving.”