Don't Live on Auto Pilot

Earlier this year, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced an investigation into a traffic incident involving a Tesla striking a pedestrian. Local authorities say the driver of a 2022 Tesla Model Y failed to stop for a school bus while it was dropping off students, and one of the students was struck after having just exited the bus. The NHTSA investigation was triggered because it was believed that the driver of the Tesla was using a partially automated driving system at the time of the crash.

Since 2016, NHTSA investigators have probed extensively into at least 30 different auto accidents involving Tesla’s using driver-assist technology. These premium options are marketed under terms like “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving.” Critics call these options misleading, since Tesla insists that drivers using them must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain vehicular awareness at all times.

Michael Brooks is the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. He believes that Tesla has a unique responsibility in addressing these safety concerns.

Brooks said, “I’ve been saying probably for a couple of years now, they need to figure out why these vehicles aren’t recognizing flashing lights for a big starter. NHTSA needs to step in and get them to do a recall because that’s a serious safety issue.”

In February, NHTSA pressure resulted in Tesla recalling more than 300,000 vehicles because their driver assist software was violating traffic laws. Tesla said the problem was corrected via an over-the-air software update, similar to how smartphones receive updates. This action followed a request by the U.S. Department of Justice for Tesla to turn over internal documents related to its “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving” features.

That reminds me of a recent news story and a lawsuit regarding how an auto drive vehicle ran over a pedestrian. And then there is the story from a few years back before the days of “auto drive”, about a couple who retired and purchased an RV to travel around the country. On one of their early trips, after being on the road for a few hours, the wife took the wheel to allow her husband to rest a bit. In a little while she too felt the need for a break, since her husband had fallen asleep in the back of the RV, and seeing the “auto cruise” button, she mistook it for “auto pilot.” Pressing the button, she then relaxed and closed her eyes to nap. It wasn’t long before the RV careened wildly off the road awakening both she and her husband as they crashed into a ditch!

Today people are putting more and more trust in technology to, literally, “drive” their lives! And I suspect we will hear of more crash stories in the years ahead. Maybe they’ll work out all the bugs, but there is something eerie about trusting technology to understand and respond to all the elements of driving.

Similarly, when it comes to your life, God never intended for you to put it on auto pilot and take a nap! While God certainly wants to direct and control your life, He still expects you to be responsive to His direction. You can be certain that there will be no “bugs” when He is leading. You’ll never run into a “ditch” with Him! And that is why you can go forward in confidence knowing that He is always trying to take you someplace new. I love being your Pastor!

For God’s Glory Alone,
Pastor Ray

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