News You Can Use: Safest Car in America Burns — Safely

With a sticker price of more than $70,000, Tesla cars are pricey. If the advertising is to be believed, they are billed as the safest car in America. A Tesla driver got the chance to find out after driving over road debris in Washington State.

In early October, Tesla Model S owner Robert Carlson was driving his vehicle on a highway in Kent, Washington. After running over debris dropped from a semi-truck, Mr. Carlson was informed by his car to exit the vehicle. Pulling to the off-ramp, Mr. Carlson left the car, which caught on fire, catching the eye of a passing motorist whose video of the scene went viral.

Promoted as a uniquely safe vehicle, the Tesla battery design has come into question. With a lithium-ion battery pack running almost the length of the undercarriage, a vehicle could run over debris that would hit the pack. In this case, the debris punched through a quarter-inch steel shield and shorted the battery, causing fire that engulfed the front end of the car.

After being doused, the fire flamed up again, requiring firefighters to turn the vehicle on its side, cut holes in the shield and the battery and put the fire to rest.

Responding to concern about the design of the car and the potential hazard of lithium-ion batteries in general, Tesla CEO Elon Musk notes the following:

  • Sensors in the car responded and informed Mr. Carlson to exit the vehicle
  • Mr. Carlson was not injured and the fire did not penetrate the passenger compartment
  • Had the vehicle been gas-powered, the fire could have been worse and involved the passenger cab

Is the car more or less prone to accident? Time will tell. If you are injured in a vehicle accident, work with a reputable Long Island personal injury law firm.

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