• Who’s Responsible If a Tesla On Smart Summon Hits You or Your Car?

Not sure Smart Summon was such a good thing to release this early on

LISTEN 03:54

I saw an article posted by another outlet just the other day that was titled “idiots are trying to run themselves over with Their Own Tesla’s.” Like most people, I didn’t really read the article – I eventually did, and it isn’t much of an article – however, with all the dumb challenges going on these days (dumb kids eating tide pods, I’m looking at you) I found it very easily to believe people are out there jumping in front of their Tesla on Smart Summon, just to see if it will stop. As it turns out, there aren’t as many cases as I would have expected, and I’m sure they’re coming at some point, but there is one “homemade” test that we’ve posted below. Not surprisingly, the Smart Summon feature is far from perfect. This raises another question in my mind, though: Who the hell is responsible in accidents involving Tesla Smart Summon?

Tesla Smart Summon Home Test

Is this a video of an idiot trying to run himself over with his own Tesla? Well, kind of, but it’s not that deep. He’s not jumping in front of the car, but his test does go to show that the Smart Summon feature is FAR from perfect. In the second attempt, the car really does almost run over his toes. If he was walking faster, would it have actually hit him? I’m sure we’ll find out eventually – just keep an eye on your FB feed; some idiot will try to find out. The point is, how was this testing and the results not done or discovered by Tesla before it rolled out. And, if it was, why was the system rolled out when there’s still potential for an accident? It’s not just this video that shows how not-ready the system is.

Self-Driving Teslas on Smart Summon Are Causing Accidents

The video you saw of the guy almost getting ran over isn’t a one-time thing. It’s not necessarily related to pedestrians, but there are a bunch of videos out there that show just how prematurely this system one-time. Make no mistake, folks, Teslas are causing accidents, and the NHTSA is even investigating. Check it out:

Here’s a close call – it’s a good thing the driver of the other car was paying attention

Here’s one where another driver backs into a Tesla. Sure, it’s probably the other driver’s fault, but a human driver in the Tesla would have thought to honk or stop

And, here’s on that supposedly happened in a driveway

So, Who’s Responsible in a Smart Summon Crash?

Who's Responsible If a Tesla On Smart Summon Hits You or Your Car?
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Well, the truth is that Smart Summon isn’t production-ready, so it calls Tesla’s discretion in to play more than anything. Why give people access to a system that can’t tell the difference between the road and grass, clearly has blind spots, or can’t react the same way a person would evade an accident altogether. All of the accidents or close calls above would easily be preventable with a human driver at the wheel. Even if the Tesla had priority an accident still wouldn’t be likely as a simple smashing of the brakes and a horn honk would do the job. But, who’s responsible in a Smart Summon accident?

Smart Summon works via a phone app that requires owners to keep their finger on a button at all times.

Releasing the button causes the car to stop (it works via GPS.) So, in theory, the tesla own could be considered at fault in situations where Smart Summon is actually in the wrong – like the first video we showcased above. If another driver backs into a Tesla’s path, on the other hand, it could be considered that driver’s fault. However, one should note that a human driver would probably prevent the accident or at least minimalize severity. There’s no law forbidding Smart Summon, but it’s also to be used in parking lots only. At this point, it’s a mixed bag, but I’m going to say this will eventually lead to some pretty interesting insurance situations. Smart Summon clearly isn’t ready to be used by the general population, and, somehow, I feel Elon Musk and Tesla are in the wrong for putting it in the hands of owners long before it’s ready. What do you think?

Further Reading

2017 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Read our full review on the Tesla Model S.

2016 Tesla Model X High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model X.

2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior
- image 801510

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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