Technology

An open letter to the Tesla fan who wants to run over a kid to prove a point

Dear Tesla fan who wants to run over a kid to prove a point,

Hi, my name’s Andy and I’m a transportation editor. I saw on Twitter — yes, I know, not a great place to see things — that you were going to run over a kid to prove a point. Something about Tesla and Autopilot and some video on Twitter — again, bad place, should avoid — of a test showing a Tesla vehicle running over a kid-sized dummy and you wanting to prove that those tests are bogus and wrong so you were going to try to run over a real kid to prove your point.

So I thought I’d write you this letter and say this:

Don’t.

Don’t do that.

Really, I would totally just not do that. Don’t force a kid to walk in front of your 2,000-pound metal box traveling at god knows what speed just to prove a point to some dummy on Twitter who posted a thing and got you all mixed-up in the head.

Don’t put a kid’s life at risk to win a Twitter fight.

I see you’re a big fan of Tesla and Elon Musk, with whom you seem to have a pretty cordial relationship on Twitter. That’s very nice! I’m glad you have friends on the internet. You seem to have a lot of them. 129,000 followers! That’s way more than me. Congratulations.

Maybe your test goes well. Maybe the kid lives and your point gets proven and the people you were trying to prove wrong are so embarrassed they turn into corncobs. But I can’t help but worry that some of your many followers will see you tweet about running over a kid with your Tesla to prove a point and think, “Hey, I could do that too!” And maybe their tests don’t go well. And then oops, dead kids.

You’re a big fan of Full Self-Driving, the Tesla driver assist feature that sounds like an autonomous driving system but isn’t because it requires the driver to stay vigilant (as you’ve noted). You want to prove that it’s safe, despite all the safety experts and consumer advocates who say it’s not. I’m glad you like your car’s cool new technology. But it’s just a thing in a car. Kids are way better! They say weird things and giggle at dumb jokes and can be really cute sometimes. Let’s leave the kids out of the Twitter fight, yeah?

I get that you think Full Self-Driving is completely safe and you really want to prove that point to your followers, and based on your personal experience, it seems to be true. But I think you’re confusing your own anecdotal evidence with statistical evidence, which is an informed logical fallacy. Don’t worry, people do this all the time!

Let’s leave the safety tests to the experts, yeah? Every day Tesla and other companies working on driver assist and autonomous driving tech perform thousands of tests and drive millions of miles. There are better ways to get sempai to notice you that don’t involve harming children. Anime Photoshops, weed jokes, COD memes. Our guy is an open book. And you basically wrote the manual for how to get Elon to reply to your tweets!

I don’t know whether you’re serious about running over a child, but online threats have a way of manifesting as real-life disasters and I would probably hate myself if I didn’t say anything at all. A lot of kids die in car crashes every year, but the numbers are going down. Let’s keep it that way.

So please. Pretty please. Don’t run over the kid.

Sincerely, a guy who saw you wanted to run over a kid to prove a point and thought that was a bad idea.



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