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Ford Mustang Mach-E using BlueCruise at time of crash: NTSB (fordauthority.com)
153 points by luu 41 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 369 comments

> According to the NTSB, a witness had come across the stopped CR-V prior to the collision and noted that neither its taillights or hazard lights were illuminated, She was able to change lanes and avoid hitting the Honda, but after she passed it, she saw the Mach-E strike the stopped crossover in her rearview mirror.

This scenario sounds like what I refer to as a "peek-a-boo rear ending". You see it exaggerated in movies with high speed chase scenes, but its real world equivalent is a very common road going scenario and almost certainly leads to a collision if at 45+ mph and the rear car driver isn't maintaining situational awareness of traffic flow several cars ahead...a scenario that aggressive tailgaters simply don't take into account in their public behavioral risk calculus, and clearly BlueCruise isn't capable of handling either.

I had this happen with Teslas FSD about a year ago. A car missed a turn at a light because they didn't get into the turn lane early enough ... so they decided to make the turn from the "going straight" instead.

But the light changed before they made the turn and they became stuck in the middle of the intersection once they lost the protected left ...

So now they're sitting in the "going straight" lane where you wouldn't expect a stopped car. The car in front of me changes lanes without really slowing down, and the FSD prediction model didn't pick up that the stopped car was stopped. I can't really blame it, it took me half a second to figure it out as well and by that time I was hard on the brakes.

Isn’t this a sign that you are following too closely? A driver should typically be able stop a car length per 10mph. So if you are traveling at 40mph you would need about 4 car lengths to react and stop. Ergo if you are following closer than that you may not stop in time. Just because you are using cruise control doesn’t absolve you of this requirement. My car allows me to set a cruise control gap in seconds which translates to reaction time. 2 seconds is the lowest gap mode and usually leaves me with half the distance necessary for a safe stop (although the car has aggressive brakes and can quickly slowdown at the expense of passenger comfort). Due to this I leave the gap mode at 6 seconds which is larger than I would like but would (and has) allow me to slow down in time for a stopped object in the road.

I apologize for any flame wars this creates, since people find driving to be deeply personal and any findings which may criticize their driving habits is generally frowned upon.

* ... should typically be able stop a car length per 10mph.*

This is not correct, stopping distance scales as the square of speed. The distance you'd need to stay from the vehicle in front to be able to stop if it magically came to an instantaneous stop is far, far larger than anyone will reasonably keep.

The stopping distance at 65mph, including reaction time, is at least 300ft. That's ~20 car lengths, not 6.5 that your formula would yield. If conditions are wet, your tires are not in great shape, or you're not paying attention, it's going to be much longer.

Cars in front don't usually hit walls while they're traveling. It takes a while for the car in front to stop too.

The scenario under discussion is when the car in front doesn’t stop but changes lanes, revealing a stopped car in your lane right where a moving car had been. It’s like the car in front of you was suddenly stopped by magic.

The solution is typically to swerve with the other car, but sometimes that’s not possible.

But it is possible, when the cosequence is someone dying, the likelihood do not need to be high to act carefully. Anyway the example here was about a car in front avoiding a stopped car.

The thread is about how closely to follow a car. If the car is stopped, the answer is "as closely as you like, it's not moving".

This thread is about how closely to follow a moving car. The worry is if the moving car suddenly switches to being stopped. Will you be able to also switch to being stopped before hitting it?

Yea, some people seem to miss that just because the car in front of you can jump over in another lane doesn't mean you can at all. If you have a car beside you, and the car you're tailgating does not, then you're screwed in an emergency situation like this.

I'm convinced that if police ticketed people for tailgating like they do for speeding it would save thousands of lives.

Correct. Now please tell the goddamn drivers in the Seattle area. They aren’t listening to me.

Drag works the same way, which is why a pickup truck can stop from 90 mph relatively quickly

Drag is insignificant compared to brakes, unless you're going very very fast.

if that were the case, cars would just casually accelerate up to near Mach 1 without any issue.

No, because the engine is also insignificant compared to the brakes. A SUV might have brakes (briefly) capable of 900 HP of power absorption

If a car has its brakes on, it'll be extremely hard to accelerate. The brakes create more movement resistance than air resistance does.

If a car has its brakes on, it'll be extremely hard to accelerate

It should be impossible to accelerate. None but maybe the most high-output engines should have enough power to overcome the car’s brakes. Aerodynamic drag is not quite a rounding error, but I don’t imagine it counts for a whole lot in this scenario in comparison.

Following too closely is just how people drive, unfortunately.

The main reason I almost always have adaptive cruise control on is so that it keeps me at a safe braking distance from cars in front of me but I've found that most people do not care.

Just yesterday there was a corolla that was following a school bus so closely i'm sure it could sniff the bus' ass. That driver was one hard brake away from being decapitated by the school bus bumper.

The problem I have with adaptive cruise: if you set your gap too wide, usually the suggested gap, people keep swerving into it, so it makes for a very nauseating drive if you are somewhere with not enough traffic that you are moving slowly, but too much traffic that people don't have to change lanes.

Just yesterday I was driving in the left lane with cruise control set to the maximum allowed velocity, with the maximum gap behind a car driving in front of me. Of course someone overtook me on the right (illegal in Germany) just to swerve in front of me and then drive at the same speed, just 20m further ahead. He ended up being first at the red lights. I’ll never understand it…

People don’t intuitively notice speed, they see following distance as a proxy for speed: people with longer following distances are perceived as “driving slow” and they feel they are going faster if they tailgate. Both untrue, but almost universally assumed without a second thought

Wow. I’ve been driving for 20+ years and never realized this is how some people think.

Regardless if you’re going the limit or not, it’s illegal to cruise on the leftmost lane when you ‘re not overtaking.

They were rightly annoyed. It’s also a hefty fine if you’re caught doing this.

If you are traveling 80 in the left lane while the right lane is locked in at 60 (trucks who are limited to power speed limits), it is simply impossible to travel in the right lane. You are constantly overtaking vehicles, so it works out legally, but, yes, if someone wants to go 90, there is a conflict. Ideally, you wouldn’t cruise in the left lane because there would be room to cruise in the right lane, but higher traffic situations don’t really allow for it (well, not so high that you can’t go 80 in the left lane).

This usually happens when you are approaching a city and are going to get a new lane or two pretty soon anyways.

If there was room for someone to overtake on the right I don't think your scenario applies.

Well, it sort of does. Imagine your doing 100 in the left lane, as does the car in front of you and the three cars in front of them. There’s a truck doing 80 in the middle lane some 500m away. All of you are going to pass it. Now a sixth car starts tailgating behind the last in line and because there’s left a big safety gap he’s overtaking on the right.

I was the last in line, going at the exact same speed as the cars in front of me, just leaving enough space. Why would I switch lanes?

Plus it was leading to an exit anyway…

You shouldn't overtake on the right.

Exactly. It’s illegal here in Germany. I don’t know if it’s ok somewhere else.

It's not, and it's a bit worrying that it's not widespread knowledge.

I know that. But what am I supposed to do when the left lane leads to the exit I want to go to?

Also: there was someone in front of me going the same speed, I just left a big gap

This is often true, but it varies from state to state.


Sounds like we need adaptive horn control for when people do that.

In America? Get ready for more road rage shootings

I've found that the adaptive cruise has made me an almost "egoless driver". It does keep a conservative distance, and aggressive drivers do fill in the gap, but I don't care as much when I'm not the one on the pedal.

With the full map and destination time in front me, I don't feel the urge to game the system (or maybe I'm just getting old).

From some motorcycling book I remember the right response to that is to slow down even more and maintain following distance with the new car in front of you. If we let ego go and can be home 2-5 minutes late on average all will be well.

I'm sorry, but can't you just set it to medium or close distance if you're having problems with people jumping into your gap?

Ya you can do that, but then it feels like dangerous. When it gets like that I usually just shut it off and control distance myself (and "cough" adjust it to dissuade swerving and then back off for safety).

ah. my car doesn't have adaptive cruise control but I've rented cars that do. it took a bit to get used to medium and feel comfortable and not dangerous, but then people aren't cutting in.

This is not a problem, just chill out.

Having owned a car with this feature, it's very uncomfortable when it suddenly and unexpectedly brakes hard to allow a car in.

And it can be very confusing to the vehicle behind you.

Ah. I see. My 2015 Model S doesn't do that, it just gently increases the spacing until it is as it was.

I have to imagine the level of discomfort depends on the car. I've never ridden in a vehicle with adaptive cruise control, but if it responds quickly to someone jumping in line, that could go beyond annoying to motion sickness if it keeps happening.

I've used a few adaptive cruise controls that will not maintain a great enough following distance to come to a complete stop in the following distance (eg, in the case that the car in front of you swerves out of the lane revealing an obstacle).

I live in a cramped east coast city. If everyone around here followed the DMV guidelines for distance between cars, morning rush hour would probably be from 4am to 11am. Sure, the fact that everyone's driving in such a tiny little space is the problem, but the infrastructure here doesn't leave us much choice.

That's questionable. Flow should improve from increased spacing; it might even offset the density decrease.

Even if the length of the cars end-to-end is often greater than the length of craggy narrow street between tightly packed but unevenly placed intersections with anywhere from 3 to 8 entry points? Even when all of the 5 highways people are trying to enter and exit– all within the same mile– are all completely backed up? I'd have to see that to believe it.

Those seems like situations where extra spacing will help accomodated unexpeded mergings and lane changes without slowing traffic down.

The majority of the roads that aren't highways do not have lanes. The road layout is largely from a hundred or two years before cars existed.

I fail to see the relevance of this comment?

>>> Those seems like situations where extra spacing will help accomodated unexpeded mergings and lane changes without slowing traffic down.

>> The majority of the roads that aren't highways do not have lanes.

> I fail to see the relevance of this comment?

... you don't see how roads lacking lanes applies to the efficiency of merges and lane changes?

So the point you were trying to make is that single land roads don't face traffic issues from merges and lane changes? That seems to trivially be false in my experience. Having driving all over the USA on roads with a single lane in each direction, merges and lane changes are by far the biggest cause of traffic slow downs.

Sure thing, bud.

The situation is similar in the Chicago area. Some roads are almost perpetually bogged down. If there is an accident or stalled car, it gets worse. I see two things that affect flow.

1. As traffic builds and distance between cars decreases, the flow becomes susceptible to "shock waves". (Just search Youtube for "traffic shockwave" for an example. I think it happens when someone taps their brakes and the next car behind them has to brake a little harder ans so on down the line until traffic comes to a complete stop.

2. As a commuter and occasional weekend driver I recognized two traffic patterns. During normal commutes, the same drivers drive the same routes every day and most settle into a pattern of maintaining speed, remaining in lane, moving to merge and so on in harmony with other drivers. There is the occasional outlier, driving slower than everyone else or weaving in and out and trying to get ahead by weaving and passing in whatever lane momentarily has space. On weekends I see drivers who are unaccustomed to the driving situation and simply don't mesh well with other traffic. Even though there is generally less traffic, it does not flow as well. There is more lane changing and stuff like crossing three lanes to get to an exit because they forgot where they needed to exit.

Excess traffic is a problem and unfortunately we seem to be able to overfill the available capacity any time it is increased.

When I worked in downtown Chicago I was very happy to be able to take commuter rail to work rather than to have to drive, but those options seem to be more the exception than a regular option. That's a different discussion.

Yeah I've had my fair share of big city traffic, but this is very different. In many ways driving here is a lot easier than driving in a place like downtown Chicago or Manhattan because it's much much much lower-volume, so there's a lot less action you have to pay attention to, but all of the roads are tiny and twisty. It's like heart circulation vs pinkie tip circulation. And since it's so small, even being slowed down to a crawl from one end of the city to the other as part of a longer drive would affect your drive less than even moderately bad traffic in a metropolis.

Do you suppose average speeds would be higher or lower without the frequent accidents due to failure to brake in time?

The traffic is not frequently caused by accidents. It's a small city so it's pretty clear when that happens. We have some of the lowest accident stats in the country. It's probably because any time there are a significant number of cars on the road, the entire region slows to a crawl.

I'm pretty much out of the habit of using cruise control even with newer adaptive cruise control because it really encourages maintaining a constant speed even on roads that are really too busy to allow it.

In this city, even at 3:30 in the morning on Sunday, cruise control is just useless. It's a spaghetti pile of twisty roads and a billion intersections. Even on the major thoroughfares, you're not going to drive more than 20 seconds without hitting a intersection. To make matters worse, it's all way too disorganized to efficiently coordinate-- almost nothing is perpendicular-- so when traffic is light they just have very short light cycles and you're nearly guaranteed to hit a red light in a few blocks, max. Most residential streets are only wide enough to accommodate one car, but in many cases there's no logistical way to make them one way, so you just have to get good at constantly negotiating who should yield and who should go with oncoming traffic. That, specifically, causes shockingly few problems! But it makes for complex traffic patterns that require a lot of cognitive load to handle. If there was good public transit here, it would be great.

I often try to follow the car-length-per-10mph rule. It's often times not possible. Cars with just duck in front of you and people behind you will pass you. One of many reasons why I hate daily driving.

Did that around here and you’ll have people swerving around you.

> I apologize for any flame wars this creates, since people find driving to be deeply personal and any findings which may criticize their driving habits is generally frowned upon.

I appreciate your attitude here. Mine is opposite. Dangerous driving injures, maims, and murders both perpetrators and innocents alike. Criticise bad driving loudly and often. You might save lives. I had to tell my mother in law that her daughter, my wife, lost her life in a road traffic accident. There are few aspects to serious road traffic accidents that are not horrific, and speaking up may save lives. Every year, 1.19 million people die as a result of a road traffic accident. Between 20 to 50 million people suffer non-lethal injuries, many of those leading to disability.[1]

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/road-traffi...

In the U.K. some years ago the police changed the term in common use from "Road Traffic Accident" (RTA) to "Road Traffic Collision" (RTC) in order to underscore that these were not accidental but mostly due to poor driving of one sort or another.

"Road Traffic Collision" is encoded in the applicable laws.

Deepest condolences on your loss, and thank you for your candor—I can only speak for myself, but I’m definitely turning up my driving conservatism after reading your post.

I’m very sorry for your loss. I agree with your stance on being vocal about poor driving.

People speeding through the 30 mph limit in my village boils my blood like nothing else and I’m one of those parents who shouts at traffic on the school run, even driven by people I know. This has likely cost me a few invitations to the pub but I don’t care.

Can you lobby your gov't rep to install automated camera? It seems reasonable. If you are brushed aside, email/write/call a local newspaper or TV station. They would probably like to report it.

I've seen studies that those flashing speed camera/displays are pretty effective.

Well, to play the example out...

Stopped car in unexpected place.

1 car in front of your vehicle, between you and the stopped car.

Assuming the car in front of you switches lanes around the stopped car with 1 car length of space between it and the stopped car.

So 2 car lengths + your personal gap for you to slow down.

So you could be going no faster than 20mph worst case (0 personal gap).

The issue is that the car in front of you doesn't need to stop, so can potentially "suck you in" at an unsafe speed, before you realize you'll need to come to a complete stop (assuming your lane change is blocked).

It's a fair point, and at least I think of myself as a fairly conservative driver.

I think it is the only time though that I've been faced with a stationary car suddenly appearing where I wouldn't expect one, and that's very different to the car in front needing to slam on the brakes with whom you can share some stopping distance.

fwiw 6 seconds at 45mph is 120 meters. That we can comfortably go that far in 6 seconds is a modern marvel, but it's also 20 car lengths.

I understand 6 seconds is a lot of space. My cruise control has a delay before reacting so 6 seconds allows for the car to react and if it’s not to my liking then leaves me with the necessary space to stop. On the highway I usually control my distance by switching between 4 and 6 seconds.

What car is that? Of all the cars I've driven I've never encountered one that allows for more than ~2 seconds on the maximum setting. Thus leaving me a bit nervous.

I'm almost hesitant to believe that any car on the market has good enough sensors to do 6 seconds. That is a very long distance at highway speeds.

I have a Hyundai Sonata that does at least ~4 seconds. It works very well, although it can be annoying when people jump in front of you too closely.

It has 4 settings, but those don't correspond to seconds https://owners.hyundaiusa.com/content/dam/hyundai/us/myhyund... (page 6-117).

Quote: "For example, if you drive at 56 mph (90 km/h), the distance is maintained as follows: Distance 4 - approximately 172 feet"

172 feet at 56 mph is 2.1 seconds.

Not saying that you are wrong (maybe a recent model has better cruise control), but I think most people vastly overestimate the adaptive cruise controls in their cars and ~4 seconds would, for reference, vastly outperform 2023 Tesla Y in that aspect.

Huh, yeah I have a 2021 and your math seems correct.

I always drive setting four and it keeps a very comfortable amount of distance. I think something is incorrect here because I definitely get at _least_ three seconds, or maybe I'm counting too fast.

Thanks for looking into this & being friendly!

It takes FAR more than 50ft to stop from 40mph. I doubt you can even react in 50ft.

40mph is 58 feet per second, so that’s less than a second to

Your “rule of thumb” is AT BEST highly misleading.

Typical humans take about 250ms to react, and that’s before you actually do anything. There’s 15ft (at least) gone before you even touch the pedal.

Only a fool breaks the two-second rule: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-second_rule

That rule explicitly states that it's not for being able to stop, though, it's just to have time to react to the driver ahead stopping. Two seconds isn't nearly enough to stop in front of a stationary object. At highway speeds it's even barely enough to not rear-end the vehicle ahead if it has to panic stop.

Yep, that’s right. Its a great rule though, and as explained in the article it works at any speed, highway or not. Personally I keep 4 seconds.

>Isn’t this a sign that you are following too closely?

If you open enough space ahead of you for a car, someone will cut in. Driving too closely isn't something only you can do something about.

In fact, because of the aforementioned behaviour, it's safer to drive too close because it's far more dangerous for a car to cut in in front of you because he perceives "enough" space to do so.

No it is not safer to drive too close. If someone cuts in front of you, you just slows down a bit to keep enough space and that's it.

> Isn’t this a sign that you are following too closely?

But they said it's FSD who's following too closely.

I'd expect automated system should react even better, because it pays attention constantly. That's the whole point, especially when it's called "Full".

Unfortunately for anyone relying on so-called "full self driving", that it may be capable of doing much of the driving you remain the driver.

It's not even a question of "taking back control". You're expected to be in control of the vehicle.

There's a lot of technical measures that prevent people doing harmful actions. Even in spaceships, where pilots are highly trained, focused, selected professionals.

For example, most cars prevent fiddling too much with its entertainment system while driving, even though drivers are expected to not do that while driving.

> I can't really blame it, it took me half a second to figure it out as well and by that time I was hard on the brakes.

To me, it seems like this is where a computer should be a million times better. It might take me or you a half second to figure out whats happening, but software should be able to immediately detect that a car is stopped in front of you.

This shouldnt be a problem at all with a LiDAR based system, but I can see how a camera system might have trouble with it (possibly indicating that LiDAR should still be used for at least the near future)

I'd imagine it would be similar to this scene from the movie Disturbia: https://youtu.be/b9qMqGTi1uc?si=s-QoxZ4hRv9Oyjhn&t=28

Exaggerated for effect as you'd expect from Hollywood, but yes.

Blind curves, peaking hill ascents, and backed up interstate exits immediately come to mind where peek-a-boo rear ends become a serious risk.

Tesla FSD (but not autopilot) deliberately tracks the car in front of it, as well as the lane and tries to follow that car (and takes it as a safety signal and slows when the car above swerves out of the lane). It's interesting behavior, and usually annoying, but this is why it's there.

Most radar cruise control is set low on the bumper which allows visibility into the vehicle in front. My 12 year old car with adaptive cruise control will sometimes begin slowing when the car two cars ahead starts slowing. Sometimes because it requires a truck or suv or otherwise a vehicle with a higher ride height for radar to pass under. When it’s a Miata in front of me, I will only track that Miata because it’s so low. At the same time.. I can see over these lower cars. The ford flex however is a car that stands out as a low sitting vehicle that is rather tall for its ride height.

That said none of this matters if the object or vehicle in front of the following car is stopped. The radar system will ignore it as part of the background.

Sad part is Tesla had this and it was great and people bragged about it.

I would've thought a stopped vehicle without any visible lights would be much easier to detect with a lidar/sensor based system vs human reaction.

Do these platforms like BlueDrive and FSD not constantly survey the distance of objects in front of and around you? Or do they still rely on visuals like tail lights?

A system with lidar would have definitely detected the obstacle and braked. For a lidar, which is an active sensor, it doesn't matter if it's daytime or complete darkness since it makes its own light.

FSD is inferring distance of objects as it has no direct measurements. It's a real challenge in darkness since camera is a passive sensor and it has to rely on visual cues. I believe BlueCruise is using a radar, but I'm not sure how robust it is.

I believe BlueCruise uses radar, gps, and mobile eye which is dual camera inputs. At least my 2019 ford uses radar+camera combination for lane centering, ymmv.

Edit: looked at a Mach e and it uses dual cameras behind the rear view mirror so likely intel’s mobile eye platform

The problem is the stopped car was hidden by the moving car that avoided it successfully. Only when that car swerved to avoid the stopped one did the BlueCruise car have line-of-sight to the stopped one. There was no visual at all, and no lidar, but possibly some indirect radar.

And radar generally ignores all stopped objects because there are too many false returns. It’s really only useful for objects traveling at some speed. If the CRV had been going even 5 miles an hour it maybe it would’ve been detected.

Every radar system has this issue. It’s basically the same thing that caused that Tesla to run into the side of a semi so many years ago. The semi was stationary (relative to the road direction) so if the radar saw it probably ignored it.

I’ve never heard of a system that uses the cameras. Except Tesla since they removed the radar I guess. No one else seems to.

Subaru's eyesight uses cameras

Sorry. I meant cameras only. As far as I’m aware every system on the market uses cameras for lanes and radar for obstacles ahead except Tesla since they removed their radar.

I’m guessing (but didn’t check!) Subaru also has the radar too.

Subarus only use cameras.

Interesting. Thanks. Personally I’d rather have the radar + camera. I see it as more reliable.

Doesn’t help in this situation though.

Need to understand the modular nature of cars. The radar is one system and camera is another. Camera is only used for lane detection the only output from the camera is if road lines are detected and how close to either line. Based on this the car can “ping pong” since it detects it getting too close to one line, or if it has two cameras it can determine what the center of the lane is by keeping the distance from each line equal.

Radar typically applies to the ACC system while camera applies to LKAS or lane centering. Rarely are the two connected. FSD and comma.ai are probably the only systems which combine the two.

> Camera is only used for lane detection […]

That might be true for some vehicles only.

Subaru EyeSight cameras (there are 2x front cameras and 1x rear camera) are also used to detect moving and stationary objects, and it will engage the emergency braking if, e.g., you are driving or reversing into a wall. Lane detection can be disabled on Subaru cars, yet the EyeSight will continue to scan surroundings and be ready to start breaking.

As of this year, the EyeSight is available even on Subaru BRZ 2nd gen with the manual transmisson.

> ... Subaru BRZ 2nd gen with the manual transmisson.

How does it manage that? Is the clutch electrically controlled?

It is just emergency braking (electronic brake distribution across all wheels according to sensor readings), plus ABS in a hard braking scenario. The clutch is not affected.

So the car brakes, but you have to press the clutch?

You don’t have to, the car will stall out. Another scenario: you are in 5th gear and the cruise control slows down to 15mph. The car stalls. My manual did that 25 years ago

Frankly, I do not know – mine is the '23 model, not the '24 one.

According to this video, breaks will be applied automatically, even if it is in neutral or if the engine stalls: https://youtu.be/8WIydvZZ23I

Right that’s how I’m used to them all working.

The Bluecruise setup in the article also uses cameras as well as radar.

I got in a situation like this in my model x a couple years ago. I was going 125 km/h using autopilot on the highway towards Sweden in quite dense traffic and a car two cars ahead of me crashed.

When I hit the brake, it was already max engaged by the car, probably .5 seconds ahead of me.

I managed to stop, but the car behind me had to steer into the side to avoid hitting me in the rear.

I figured it that day that a proper emergency brake system in the car is worth the money!

Edit: I always drive with the max distance to the next car when on autopilot.

> I always drive with the max distance to the next car when on autopilot.

This. Also the Tesla Model 3 max-distance setting is really not big enough for my taste, especially for winter driving. I have a feeling that it does not even satisfy the legal requirement of 1,5 seconds we have here.

I agree, I have both a 3 and X and the max distance on the 3 is a bit shorter for some reason. I'd like an even longer setting on both cars.

That's odd. I've roughly checked my Model S and the maximum separation seems to correspond to the recommended 3 seconds.

I have had exactly this on a 70mph 2 lane road in Britain known as a dual-carriageway. I will phrase this carefully because we drive on the left, so the overtaking lane is on the right.

I was following a 'Luton van' (Which is like a small truck body on a normal 3.5tonne class long wheel base van chassis, you might call it a small box truck in the US). Incidentally Luton Vans are not allowed to go 70mph on a dual carriageway, they are limited to 60. I couldn't see past at all due to his wide body, so I was following at a safe distance and matching his speed at 70mph. Suddenly he swerved into the overtaking lane and I was met by a queue of stationary traffic! I knew this road well and stationary traffic would not normally be backed up this far. I braked very hard and felt the ABS rattle. I had just enough time to realise that there was a narrow gravel shoulder on this section I could turn into if needed, but the car grabbed just in time to not need that option. It was one of the scariest things to happen to me on a road. If I had been tailgating the truck I would not have had nearly enough time to stop and it would have caused a really nasty accident as I would have hit a stationary car into a line of stationary cars. I don't see how lidar, radar or cameras could have helped much, except to have reduced the reaction time slightly perhaps? It probably would not have been able to judge that the shoulder was a good alternative option.

Emergency Brake Assist would help if the van was equipped with it. Swerving at the last moment and without warning would not be possible because EBA would activate brakes earlier and you would be able to see van's stop lights.

I have had a couple of scares driving at night, even doing my best imitation of a tree full of owls. Dark cars w/o taillights (and that happens way more often than I'd like) on a street with poor lighting (ditto) is the perfect recipe for a disaster. I don't know why people drive without lights, but they do, and it's a damn nightmare when you come across one.

Sometimes, you do everything right and the Universe tries to destroy you anyway.

Why doesn’t every country mandate daytime running lights like Canada has for decades?

Modern cars also always detect low light and crank up the dashboard brightness. There’s no longer a good clue to the driver that they forgot to turn the headlights on.

I would argue that daytime running lights is the cause of many cars driving without taillights. In the US, DRL are only forward-facing. Nothing rear-facing is illuminated.

Drivers that have switched their headlights to the off position, the DRLs are "bright enough" to drive and not notice your headlights are off.

I see them very often, and for some reason a large portion of them are Hyundai. Maybe because the dash light, button backlights are independent of the headlights, so there's no real indication inside that your lights are not on, except the switch position.

I pretty much always keep my lights on Auto. But I've had them turned off when I've had the car in for service and, probably because previous vehicles haven't had DRLs, I haven't noticed on a couple of occasions.

In a Mazda with automatic highbeams on, it will look like you have your lights on full power, but you won't have any brake lights.

As you mentioned, this mode is incredibly difficult to figure out your in.

I didn’t realize DRL didn’t include rear lights. They should!

My 2017 Golf R would intentionally turn off the dashboard backlights at night if the lights weren't on, providing me excellent feedback that they weren't on. Either head lights should always be on auto by default, or more cars need proper feedback to the driver when they aren't.

Didn’t the US do that a long time ago?

What we don’t have is mandated automatic headlights. I remember there was a discussion recently about requiring automatic headlights or maybe not automatically increasing the brightness of the dash when it’s dark out. But I don’t remember what happened with it.

> Why doesn’t every country mandate daytime running lights like Canada has for decades?

Not everyone drives an up-to-date vehicle and TBH, some vehicle owners do not care that they are a hazard, regardless of what the law requires. Here in Austin, when the police get in a snit, they just stop enforcing the law and even when they're not in a snit about something, there are parts of town where traffic laws are traffic suggestions. All of this makes for a somewhat hazardous driving environment at times.

DRLs are actually the problem, not the solution. These people think their lights are on.

>Why doesn’t every country mandate daytime running lights like Canada has for decades?

Because for most countries in the world that have sun bright sun most of the year it is totally ridiculous. Spain, Argentina, Morocco, Nigeria. Greece, Italy, Thailand, Filipines, Mexico...

Those countries have ridiculous daylight saving time changes because countries in the North believed this hack was a good idea.

The darkness Canadians experience in Winter and low sun in Summer are conditions in Norther countries other countries do not have.

> Spain, Argentina, Morocco, Nigeria. Greece, Italy, Thailand, Filipines, Mexico. Those countries have ridiculous daylight saving time changes because countries in the North believed this hack was a good idea.

I'm curious to know where this list came from. Argentina, Morocco, Nigeria, Thailand and the Philippines do not use DST.

Spain, Greece and Italy do use DST, as members of the EU I believe they are obliged to do so.

I think now EU member states are allowed to abandon DST if they want to. Nobody has so far, though.

There are very few good reasons to have your headlights off while your vehicle is running. Having a switch to manually turn them off if you're i.e. boarding a ferry and don't want to blind workers is fine but the default should be full on all the time - daytime, night time, adverse weather, whatever.

This is a very very very common way of dying, and is why German highway kits require reflective vests and warning triangles (just in case your emergency lights are broken or even as extra redundancy). It might be a good idea to carry road flares along as well. This reminds me I should update my kit even though I'm in the US.

This situation nearly happened to me just a couple hours ago - thankfully I was maintaining a proper distance from the semi truck in front of me as it swerved left out of the lane - otherwise I would have had no chance to notice the car going <15mph with no lights on, in the middle of the night, on a 70MPH interstate.

tailgaters are relevant because … ?

...it's an example of a common human driving behavior whose setup conditions lead to a high probability of collision if a peek-a-boo scenario were to manifest, namely by:

- obstructing the rear driver's ability to assess forward traffic conditions, especially if the leading vehicle is larger and/or has dark tinted glass; and

- posturing for insufficient clearance/time to safely react to an abrupt change in forward obstacle speed upon surprise discovery.

The tailgater pejorative is what drivers are most likely familiar with; implied risks are much easier to internalize when framing the scenario from this oft encountered context. It's just one possible path towards the conditions and outcomes being discussed, which is what really matters.

Sure, this might naively beg the question: Was the BlueCruise vehicle tailgating as a typical driver might characterize?

If yes, then the outcome should be unsurprising, and it makes me wonder how such an operating mode is even permitted.

If no, then it begs the even harder question of whether the automation tech is operationally mature enough to safely handle such a common known unknown.


The last time I was aggressive tailgated was on the way home from the hospital with a newborn and a wife just out of abdominal surgery.

Stop it.

What scenario in your mind constitutes deserved tail gating?

Blocking a lane or driving much slower than speed limit without stopping on side to let everyone pass.

And what do you accomplish by said tailgating?

People do get the hint and move over most of the time

Do you think it is worth the risk?

there's little room for "deserving" anything in traffic other than honking

And before attacking with your vehicle itself, you can try counting down from 60. Works every time in my experience.

When is "aggressive tailgate" deserved?

My guess would be not adhering to the "keep right except to pass" signs on the highway. I don't tail gate, but I do find it rather annoying when people block traffic by driving right beside another vehicle rather than passing them and clearing the lane.

So that we can all not adhere to the "maximum" speed signs on the highway to the degree that we prefer :)

I was a passenger while a friend was driving once and he said "I'm already going fast enough. Nobody should be going faster than me anyway." So there's one mentality.

I see a number of negative stories, so sharing my positive story with self driving cars.

Two weeks ago driving home, Tesla Model Y with FSD, FSD on, nighttime, suburban streets. Car phantom brakes and I can’t see a reason why. Glance down and I see the UI thinks a human is running into the street.

I look back up, canceling FSD and taking over… and a damn invisible guy in dark brown jacket and black pants races past my headlights.

He had stopped before crossing my lane, but when he saw FSD slow down he booked it across. Other cars slowed after he cut straight into my headlights as they noticed him for the first time. No one else saw him either. I was super impressed with FSD.

The promised perfect future isn’t here - you can’t take a nap and the car drives you - but the current state is a value add.

The "funny" thing, though, is if you hadn't been using FSD at all, you probably never would have seen him at all, and he wouldn't have crossed until after you passed. FSD slowing down is what caused him to think it was safe to cross, because he thought "you" saw him. But you -- very reasonably! -- thought the car was slowing for no reason, and you might have hit the guy had you manually accelerated sooner. Not saying this was your fault in the least. Just thought it was interesting that FSD -- in a very strange way -- could have actually caused you to hit a pedestrian, even though it saw the person and did the right thing.

Encouraging pedestrians to play chicken with cars is never a good thing.

I personally play chicken with cars very often. Of course only when it is my right as a pedestrian.

If more people did that the drivers would be constantly more alert.

Twice a car has done emergency braking in front of me (they were not alert and braked late) and got rear ended.

This sounds like terrible practice and you are gambling with you life. And probably the lives of those around you.

Fine, you might have right of way. Fine, the car driver might legally be in the wrong. But you'd still be dead and nothing changes that. You are not invincible, and the law will change fuck-all about you being in a wheelchair breathing through a tube for the rest of your life. I doubt youll even change the behaviour of the at-fault driver that much.

Lobby your council for better infrastructure for pedestrians, and steeper fines for infractions. Well lit and marked zebra crossings, etc. In Ireland _every_ zebra crossing outside of Dublin has bright flashing yellow lights on both sides that constantly flash day and night. If you are half asleep at the wheel they sure wake you up as you approach the crossing!

When I do this I am very careful to make sure that while I am not in any danger the driver will think that I am.

This seems like a very bad practice, unless you want your inevitable gravestone to say "Here lies gmokki. It was his right as a pedestrian."

Eh, that sounds like a pretty good legacy for the current era. Mine will probably say "Unknown" or "Anonymous"

In Seattle, if a pedestrian wants to cross at any no-stop-light intersection (it doesn't matter if it is across a busy stroad!), cars are supposed to stop and let them cross safely, even at night. Yes, it is a poorly thought out law (unsafe for both pedestrians and cars, without improving the intersections to make them safe for pedestrians by not adding crosswalks, not removing pedestrian obstructing parked vehicles and trees, etc...), but in that sense even if the guy were in full black camo on a moon-free night without street lights around, cars are still expected to see and stop for them.

So in that case, if the pedestrian was at any kind of intersection, FSD would be doing the correct thing.

I've always been taught that pedestrians have the right of way, even when they don't. But I don't think that applies to invisible pedestrians.

Of course, Seattle is home to lots of terrible traffic designs and practices. I have relatives in Ravenna; in their neighborhood people park on either side of the street and residential intersections signal a 4-way stop by absence of any stop signs.

I teach my son that he doesn't have the right away, no matter what the laws really say, because even if the car is at fault, he is still dead (and that scares me). Cross walks only for now, and definitely no going to try and cross 15th NW (a four lane that carries lots of traffic) like that.

It does apply to invisible pedestrians, but cops are more likely to rule it a drive-at-fault accident than something more serious like negligent homicide. I live in Ballard, people park on either side here also, and...there isn't much buffer even at designated cross walks to see people waiting (or just going) to cross.

That's the exact reason for the law.

The law is on the pedestrian's side, physics is on the car's side.

Pedestrian's should be cautious because they have more to lose.

It’s a half assed law that puts way too much faith in drivers and is not a real solution to pedestrian safety, which requires actual road redesigns.

I love your comment because it highlights another complexifier of FSD debates - what was the actual right action?

Yep, pausing signaled to the guy he could run across. However who’s to say he was going to be reasonable and wait? What if he wanted to get hit, or didn’t care? How much influence will those edge cases have on our (human or FSD) norms?

As a society we haven’t answered those questions; it further muddles the FSD debate.

As the tech improves it will be interesting to see how we humans define the rules of engagement.

It's very clear to me, let FSD stop the car, that puts all further blame on the guy if he dies or something happens. We should do everything in our power to reasonably and safely prevent it, and letting FSD stop does so, the rest is on everyone else.

Yep. The key words are: to you. When I have convos about this, a spectrum of views come out.

Other views I’ve heard:

- pausing encourages ad hoc crossing, increasing odds of hurting someone by volume even as odds decrease.

- if you stop you enable carjacking (walk into street, car stops, steal car / hurt the human, profit). I don’t want my car to set my loved ones up to be attacked.

- pausing significantly impacts traffic flow, compressing our already overcrowded roads

- I don’t want the car to stop unless it gets to my destination, there’s a red light, or I tell it to stop. I don’t want behavior I might not understand. I’ll decide if I stop for a human or puppy or cardboard box.

Everyone says human safety first but in practice there’s a spectrum of opinions in practice.

My hope is FSD will force a common viewpoint and setup a future generation with a more unified approach to road safety.

Same thing has happened to me. FSD sounded the alarm and hard braked on a dark two lane highway. I couldn’t see why until I fully passed someone dressed in dark clothing who had just crossed the road. I was paying full attention and never saw them. They were probably a couple hundred feet from the front of my car.

Over 10 years ago. Colleague comes into the office and says: "I nearly died yesterday." Tells a story how he (as a passenger) was driving with other colleague to an exhibition. The driver thought it was a good idea to explain the car radio to the others...while driving over 200km/h on the German Autobahn. The car, a VW Passart, suddenly engaged full braking while slowly steering to the right (onto the breakdown lane). They came to a full stop besides a standing car.

Without the auto braking they would have driven into the end of a traffic jam with very high speed.

This is equivalent to "A colleague of mine played russian roulette but lived because the safety was on"

The moral of the story is not that safety mechanisms are good (this is self evident) but rather that you should never gamble with your life.

There is no moral. It just happend. The End. People have to travel sometimes and can't always be the driver/pilot/operator of the vehicle. And if they are, they can't always be at their 100%.

my euro sedans from the 80s already had night vision options.

would be a much better use of the infotainment screens today and cost much less than FSD snakeoil. while covering this single praise for it.

BMW still has it. Mine will display a large warning triangle with a pedestrian in it projected on the windscreen, and then you can look at the nav display to view the night camera view from the grill with the person highlighted in yellow (the rest is black and white for night vision)

It responds to bicycles and pedestrians either on the road or moving laterally across your path. Ignores the ones that are on the sidewalk and going the same direction as the car.

Tesla FSD is not snake oil.

"Snake oil is a term used to describe deceptive marketing, health care fraud, or a scam. Similarly, snake oil salesman is a common label used to describe someone who sells, promotes, or is a general proponent of some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution"


Selling something as "full self driving" or "autopilot" when it is nothing of the sort is in fact deceptive marketing. Claiming something will be "ready in 2 years" for 10+ years in a row is deceptive marketing and a scam.

Fine print saying the system has limited capabilities does not make it not a scam. Using a name consumers associate with 100% computer control is flat out deceptive and indicative of snake oil.

It's not a value-add given it causes chain-reaction crashes from phantom braking and quite regularly slams into the back of emergency vehicles on the side of the road (likely because the cameras are blinded by the emergency lights.)

Teslas had radar assist. It was too expensive for Musk. And to keep new car owners from being annoyed by older Telsas having more features than theirs, he ordered that the older Teslas have their radar units be disabled.

Actually, it appears that getting rid of "sensor fusion" has resulted in almost all of the phantom braking issues. My car still has radar assist, and only uses visual models now. And in that time, Phantom breaking has become a thing of the past.

The hitting a emergency vehicle thing - which is incredibly common as a kind of car crash - see why police always set their wheels to face into traffic when they do a traffic stop - doesn't seem to be occurring.

(Just in case you wanted some actual data)

Having worked with these kinds of systems, it can be difficult to tell from the driver's seat the actual effects of that change. It may have reduced false positives and true positives. It may have simply moved the false positives into scenarios you don't encounter. It may have not affected the true positive rate at all, but might have made positive identification slower and thus violated a real-time constraint elsewhere in the system leading to accidents. I've actually seen this last one root caused before.

The only people who have the data to know whether removing radar was safety net positive or not work(ed) at Tesla and can't say. Even then, they probably wouldn't know whether the system could have given better results with different changes.

Ehh. I had the same streach of road that resulted in three phantom breaking situations (one of them not in a tesla, but in a toyota). Steep descent on a road with a rail road crossing with exposed rails. No issues at all once the vision only upgrade hit both my M3 and MY (which has HW3). It's possible that they put in some other fix at the same time, but they stated at the time that sensor fusion was a big reason for phantom breaking, so I take them at their word that this was fix.

That's not quite their point though. Completely deactivating the emergency breaking system would also solve the phantom breaking problem, and since the average person does not end up in situations which ought to trigger the feature that often it's unlikely any individual driver would ever notice that is was broken.

I'm not doubting that it went away for you. You know what you've experienced a lot better than I do. Everything I listed is consistent with that observation though and it's impossible to differentiate between them without internal data.

I’ve owned 2 cars with radar. I’ve been in at least 2 others owned by family with radar.

None Teslas. None had phantom braking.

Tesla may have solved their issue (no 1st hand experience) but having radar shouldn’t have caused it if implemented properly. It’s clearly possible, seeming every other brand has managed.

Really? I saw phantom breaking all the time from both Toyota and Hondas. Typically on a slope, with something like rail crossings where the signals got a little squirrely. having the same glitch across multiple vendors with different implementation makes me think it's more a basic physics problem.

Regardless, the Tesla vision system - love it or hate it, is doing far far more safety systems then radar only based systems.

In the 6 years I had it I got a handful of false warnings from my Honda, but never a false brake activation.

In the three years I’ve had my Mach E has had fewer false alerts than the Honda.

The one exception is it has a reverse brake assist the Honda didn’t, designed to stop you from hitting things when backing up. One friend’s driveway is so steep where it joins the street that if you’re not going very slow it will trigger the reverse brake assist. That was a surprise the first time.

My Honda definitely periodically flashes a warning on a curve when there's an oncoming vehicle in the other lane but it's never actually braked on me.

Anecdotal I know, but I bought a model Y last year without radar. We’ve used FSD substantially and haven’t seen phantom braking issues even once. I think it’s been mostly resolved.

I've never driven one but I follow a youtube channel that documents beta FSD, posting raw video feeds and analyzing/critiquing them, and I've noticed they've been gushing about it more and more this past year. Far more than in the past he's always talking about how its mastered very complex stuff it would have disengaged or awkwardly completed only half a year earlier. I think the platform has improved quite a bit in recent years.

Of course opinions on the internet will have been established from headlines in prior years so who knows how much impact it will have on discourse if it turns out to be the case.

On the other hand, I saw this just this morning: https://x.com/RealDanODowd/status/1778224756220940585

> Teslas have their radar units be disabled.

That's simply untrue. My 2015 Model S still uses the radar.

Do you actually have any examples of FSD v12 hitting emergency vehicles?

A car stopped on the highway with no warning lights or anything in center lane, at night... I'm not sure I'd be able to spot and react in time, this is what I would expect radar and other sensors on car to pick up and break on... those also failed...

Especially on Texas highways where speed limits exceed 80mph, you'd have to be very alert and likely have to swerve over into the next lane (like the other driver did).

At 80mph, the stopping distance of an average car is around 300 feet once the brake is fully engaged. That exceeds most car radar systems. And with no warning lights the camera won't do much good either.

This seems insane, are you telling me that these cars will travel at a speed whose distance is longer than the radar can detect? That is _guaranteeing_ crashes.

> are you telling me that these cars will travel at a speed whose distance is longer than the radar can detect?

"Low beams or dipped lights should shine about 150 to 200 feet ahead, while high beams or brights should shine about 350 to 400 feet ahead" [1].

Would it be customary for someone on that highway to have their high beams engaged?

[1] https://autoily.com/how-far-should-headlights-shine/

High beams are really for rural roads with very little traffic. If there are at least three lanes of traffic in one direction[1] and enough traffic that a car in front was able to see the collision in their rear view mirror, high beams are not advised.

Using them in this situation will cause major glare from mirrors of the drivers in front, and possibly for the drivers in the opposing direction.

[1] as indicated by the stopped vehicle being reported in the center lane

Which makes the radar range being less than the stopping distance less salacious.

Plus the radar is for gauging relative speed so the car can speed up to the set point if safe or slow down if the car ahead is.

It is not for finding stopped stuff in the middle of the road at high speed. I hear there are too many false positives for that to be done.

I mean yeah if you're on a pitch black highway and you can't see anything outside your headlight beams, you probably shouldn't be going 80 even if that's the speed limit.

No idea where you live but this is probably 99% of highways in the US. Where do you live that the highways are illuminated?

No street lights doesn't imply pitch black. It may imply poorly illuminated. I can't find a date, only a time, so I can't guess at lunar illumination or cloud cover.

But we don't know how many other vehicles were on the road and what light they were casting. The bystander who reported witnessing the crash was within visual distance, so couldn't have been too far ahead of the MachE. It wasn't reported if there were any other vehicles. If you have enough vehicles on the road (with their lights on) lack of overhead illumination isn't too significant.

You can't go 80 on most highways.

So be it. Going 80+ at night might not be a good idea on most roads.


Some vehicles (like my Subaru) offer automatic emergency steering that can save you when there's not enough distance to brake. The Mach-e doesn't have that per my quick Google (they have some assisted thing but it requires manual steering)

It does not. It has some kind of assist that is supposed to help you swerve fast enough and correct back to normal instead of overcorrecting.

It’s designed to fix driver inputs during a panic. You’re right it doesn’t do anything on its own.

> At 80mph, the stopping distance of an average car is around 300 feet once the brake is fully engaged. That exceeds most car radar systems. And with no warning lights the camera won't do much good either.

I think this is a pretty important point for any well-built self-driving software. Does anyone know if radar advancements could help increase this?

My understanding is no.

The big problem is that a stopped vehicle looks exactly the same to the radar as any other stationary object.

So if it sees something stationary it could be a stopped vehicle or it could be a reflection from a road sign. Or a lip in the pavement. Or something else like that.

Basically from what I’ve heard if it were to try and stop whenever it saw something stopped ahead it would constantly slam on the brakes unnecessarily. So stationary things have to be ignored, and it can’t save you from them.

They all suffer from this. The only solution I’ve heard of is LIDAR but obviously that’s a huge step up.

This is why cars are required to have red retroreflectors on the back, so even if their lights are off you can still see red lights as long as your own headlights are on. I wonder why this failed.

Retroreflectors are good but at a long distance you need a significantly brighter light source/reflection to be visible (intensity falling off with distance squared). At highway speeds that distance for safe stopping is probably in the hundred+ feet range.

It seems like in this case the retroreflectors may have worked. The problem is the car that saw and avoided them blocked the BlueCruise car from seeing them until it was too late.

Exactly. It's easy to avoid a stationary object on the road in normal visibility out if your headlights work a damn. Maybe I am just too accustomed to driving on rural third world roads where cows wander at night.

From experience, coming up to traffic jams on highways in the past, you can get deceived by cars ahead either stopped or slowing down - you dont expect that, especially after long monotonous driving, hence need for warning lights.

Indeed. I have never driven more than 4-5 hours at a time. I find driving very taxing for me. I tend to be very focused on the road and drive like everyone and everything is trying to kill me. For this reason I don't use driving aids either not even standard cruise control.

I find they help physically. After a few hours of driving I feel less tired and need to rest arms/legs physically.

The mental toll is nearly unchanged.

So when you stop I feel it’s easier to walk around and shop or whatever since I haven’t been applying as much force constantly.

But you still need that mental brake.

I find adaptive cruise control definitely helps with the mental fatigue as well, because I can concentrate on looking for hazards far ahead instead of having to pay attention to keeping distance to the car ahead. But yeah, I never drive more than a few hours without taking a break anyway.

Especially if they don’t slow down/swerve until the last second. If they had done it earlier you would’ve had more time to start noticing something was going on.

This probably needs to be added to a safety test suite. Either for the cars or for drivers.

Most adapative cruise control systems explicitly ignore stationary objects while at highway speeds. A vehicle immediately ahead that stops will be detected and responded to. A vehicle that did not move while in sensor range will be ignored.

Also seems like the stopped car could emit a signal that self-driving cars could pick up.

That could be abused really easily if anyone ever figured out how.

It’s have no idea if the risk is worse than the reward or not.

Look into Kia Boys and you will know that this idea would never work in modern USA culture

Radar struggles to identify stationary vehicles. Their reflected signals hide in noise from road signs, roadside vegetation, and the road surface itself.

It's worse than that, I think. The typical radar beam is so wide that it can't discriminate between in the road and near the road, so the Doppler selection is the only reason it even works at all. This is very noticeable on our car when you observe how far away laterally a car you've been following has to turn, e.g. when it takes an offramp, before the ACC ignores it.

What brand and model year is that? The first (15 years ago) system from BMW did that too, but the newer ones (2019 model, don't know about the years in between) know which lane the other car is in. There is a setting on European models on whether to overtake on the right or not, so it knows the traffic ahead is in your lane or in the next lane over.

I came across this a few weeks ago on a snowy highway.

Car way in front of me had its hazards on in the right lane. The center lane was clear, so I decided to make a lane change. I assumed this car was just moving slow in bad conditions, but it was actually completely stopped in the right most lane.

I didn’t realize that until I passed it. Given the conditions, it would have been extremely hard to avoid this car if I had not proactively changed lanes.

There was just absolutely no reason this car should have been stopped in a lane when it could have gotten to th shoulder.

> A car stopped on the highway with no warning lights or anything in center lane, at night

Basically every uber driver does this, double parking wherever they want. So L2 systems need uber detection.

I have literally never seen a highway with parking.

I have literally never seen an uber use a parking spot.

> According to the NTSB, a witness had come across the stopped CR-V prior to the collision and noted that neither its taillights or hazard lights were illuminated

I’m shocked by how many people drive at night with daylight running lights in US, they seem to be completely oblivious of that, even when I stop next to them at a traffic light and try to tell them - they fail to understand that daylight lights don’t have a rear light

I sometimes wonder if the daytime running lights do more harm than good, my making it harder for people to realize their lights are off.

That said, I don’t know why automatic headlights aren’t standard at this point. My base model Toyota from 25 years ago had them. It doesn’t seem like any car made in the last 20 years should require drivers turn on their headlights when it’s hard.

Possibly because early auto headlights were annoying and then there was backlash? I've got a 2003 s-10 with auto headlights, and it's reasonable, until you want to turn the headlights off (which is required when driving onto a ferry, very important at drive-in movies, and maybe there's some other reasons). There's no user visible switch, you just have to toggle the dome switch 10 times and the truck beeps to acknowledge. If this was my first vehicle with auto lights, I would have avoided it in future vehicles; but I got the cars below before this one (used light truck, because I needed a light truck and nobody makes light trucks anymore / I'm not putting enough miles to justify a new purchase anyway, unless it replaces an existing csr)

I had a 2007 Ford and a 2011 VW without auto lights at all. My current 2014 Ford and 2017 Chrysler do have auto lights, but it's the last position on the light dial: Off, parking lights, head lights, auto. So you can easily turn them off when you need to. Might be nice to have a chime and warning text for 'lights not in auto' on start / at intervals, too. Because driving off a ferry during the day, you don't always remember to set it back to auto until the next night driving.

The Mach E has auto headlights with the same setup you describe. It’s a 4 way dial. Off, auto, parking, on.

Every time you start the car it’s in auto.

I’ve found it to be a perfect system. On the other hand a family member’s car has it but acts more old-school. It stays at whatever you last set. Last set to off? Stays off. Makes it easier to forget.

Sounds good, although I tried to find a picture by searching and instead found many reports and a special service bulletin about needing a switch replacement because the switch would turn on by itself. Whoops.

There was some sort of bug around it that would affect some people, mostly in the lights not turning off as expected when you turn the car off, IIRC.

It never happened to me so I’m not sure.

My old Toyota didn’t have an off either. I had to turn the car off once just to turn them off in a certain situation. That seems like an easy fix, like you mention. No reason to abandon them completely.

I had a 2016 VW with them and every time I took it to the dealer for service they’d turn them off and I’d have to set it back to auto. I’m sure it was done as part of their testing, but it seems like a horrible default state to set them back to.

I agree that some kind of warning when they are off, maybe a light on the dash, would be good.

> I had a 2016 VW with them and every time I took it to the dealer for service they’d turn them off and I’d have to set it back to auto. I’m sure it was done as part of their testing, but it seems like a horrible default state to set them back to.

Probably engaged in the shop and they didn't like headlights in the eye.

Daytime running lights (which are now mandated in many countries) and headlights are distinct, separate and independent from each other – the former are not as intensely bright (and are oftentimes LED contour light or a separate, dimmer globe – at least on cheaper vehicles) and the latter are activated by a sensor when the ambient luminosity drops below a certain threshold «on top» (so to speak) of the daytime running lights.

I thought that requirement was added with a recent infrastructure bill but I can’t find any evidence. I must be mistaken.

To bad. It would help a ton.

I leave my headlights set to "auto." Since I have a cheap-ass subie, they work well. Quite binary, and no frou-frou.

I understand that more expensive "smart" headlights are problematic; especially at dawn or dusk.

IME it's not people with their lights on auto that are the problem, it's people who just haven't turned their lights on. Around dusk it may be that it was light when they started driving, and they haven't been paying attention.

When I'm driving I can occasionally communicate the problem successfully by flashing my lights, but I'm usually on a bike, and it's almost impossible to get it across visually or audibly, and so they stay dangerous.

> they fail to understand that daylight lights don’t have a rear light

As someone who drives in the UK, I didn't know this was a thing. Front and back lights are on at the same time.

That is not always true for Daytime Running Lights.

I've had situtions where I normally leave headlights on auto and service people turn them off and I don't immediately realize it.

I wish headlights + taillights were required to be always on, or at least on by default.

What are "daylight running lights"? Is that the same as parking lights?


For a car that has DRL enabled, you’ll be able to tell that the car’s engine is running by checking to see if head lamps are on.

It’s especially useful check for (stationary) cars during the day when you are at a distance where the engine’s sound is inaudible.

YWWV. Our DRLs are not enabled if the transmission is in park.

Do you mean without DRL?

No, he means what he said. You shouldn't drive at night with only daytime running lights. You need to turn the headlights on because they are brighter but more importantly because that turns on the taillights too.

This is great! We're starting to treat car crashes like plane crashes [1].

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/health/31safe.html

Now we just need people to treat car crashes like plane crashes even when humans are driving.

Unfortunately, given that that would result in dozens to hundreds of fatality accident investigations a day, this is likely impossible.

It's like self-driving cars suddenly sidestepped a hundred years of normalized deviance and everyone is finally, suddenly realizing that cars are fundamentally, spectacularly, and unrelentingly lethal.

Bicyclists make up nearly 15% of annual average highway fatalities.

An easy solution if you care about public safety is to ban cyclists.

Killing is different from being killed.

The CRV was stopped with hazards and lights off, at night, in the center lane of a 10 lane freeway. Certainly a human driver could have easily made this mistake.

I've never really expected self driving cars to lower the rate of accidents simply because cars are dangerous whether or not you have the reaction time of a computer.

Can it save the human in a moment of inattention? Absolutely, my prius has shouted at me to brake when I was messing with the radio, but it doesnt matter how good your radar is when you're flying around a blind turn or coming up behind an invisible, stopped object.

(%50 reduction would be good, drunks taking robo taxis home is great, but IMO driving is easy and robots wont be better at it)

In an interview with Boston Dynamics, one of their robotics engineers said something like, “the hard stuff is easy and the easy stuff is hard.”

There are things that humans can learn and do extremely quickly, or figure out on the fly, that robots require extensive training for.

AKA Moravec's paradox.

> Moravec wrote in 1988, "it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility".

> Steven Pinker wrote in 1994 that "the main lesson of thirty-five years of AI research is that the hard problems are easy and the easy problems are hard."



Although that has obviously changed in recent years.

Stuff like checking the rear view mirror when slamming the brakes upon some surprise uncertainty, true. Humans will always be bad at this, but for a computer it's trivial to include the tail situation in the brake decision.

I think the issue is that basic ACC doesn’t understand intent and the larger picture. If someone merges in and I have control, I can usually just let off the gas a little bit, as they will likely speed up, or move out of the lane shortly. Actual braking is almost never required. But the ACC just sees some slow moving object inches from the front of the car and flips out to try and get back to a good state.

But this paragraph from the report clearly states that at least one human did not. A human driver avoided the crash and a computer control system crashed.

It’s not unavoidable. But it’s a black car stopped without lights in the middle of a freeway at night. It’s just a matter of time if no one intervenes (e.g. cops with flashing lights drawing attention).

Ehh. I think it's actually 100% avoidable with a robust self driving solution. One with a smart enough margin of safety would never be in a situation where it has so little information that it initiates a crash on the highway

That's not a given. From the report:

"According to the NTSB, a witness had come across the stopped CR-V prior to the collision and noted that neither its taillights or hazard lights were illuminated, She was able to change lanes and avoid hitting the Honda, but after she passed it, she saw the Mach-E strike the stopped crossover in her rearview mirror."

That means the witness car likely obstructed the view of the stopped vehicle, then changed lanes at the last minute, revealing the stopped vehicle after it was too late for the Ford to stop.

> Certainly a human driver could have easily made this mistake.

except a human driver in front of the Mach-E did see the car and avoided it successfully.

that's why cars with driver assist features are supposed to be using radar to detect obstacles.

im not familiar with the Mach-E's feature here that's referred to as "handsfree". Usually these features are supposed to make sure the driver is still in control of steering at all times, like the Ioniq 5. I'm probably going to be a teeny bit more wary of Mach-Es on the road if they are using a not totally reliable radar detection system.

except a human driver in front of the Mach-E did see the car and avoided it successfully.

That makes it harder for the car behind. The Mach-E is following a moving car, which is blocking the view of the stopped car. She swerves out of the way, and the situation goes from everything normal to disaster in half a second. A difficult situation for humans or autonomous system.

The Mach E just shouldn't have been following the way it was. Autonomous systems need to maximize their road information, not follow social trends (i.e. not follow closely on the highway at the sacrifice of visibility)

That can be true, while also being true that a moving car in front of you can better see an obstacle while obscuring it from the car behind. I’m just saying that the car in front that avoided it was in a different visibility situation to respond than the following car.

BlueCruise hands free is truly hands free. You do not need to keep hands on the wheel at all. It can steer on its own and handle the throttle. It will not change lanes without the driver signaling. It just keeps going forward in its lane at the set speed subject to the car in front.

It uses the radar, GPS, laser highway maps, and the car’s camera system to do the driving.

There is a camera directly behind the wheel monitoring the driver at all times. You don’t need your hands on the wheel but if you look away for more than a few seconds it will disengage.

Also notice I mentioned laser highway mapping. It is only available on premapped divided highways that have no crossings, only on ramps and off ramps. Some areas will not be supported when they have otherwise would be due to a sharp bend or the number of cars entering and leaving the road there, or if the sensor data doesn’t match the maps (construction/etc).

I’d say it’s a very well designed system from a safety perspective. It does its best to ensure it only runs when it’s capable in areas pre-determined to be within its capabilities.

But it’s still level 2. The human has to be engaged.

If the car in front of it was driving like normal and swerved away from the stopped CRV late, the Ford wouldn’t have even known that CRV was there until the other car swerved out of the way. I’m not aware of any ADAS system that can interpret what a sudden swerve might mean. And no system has radar that can safely detect a stopped vehicle.

This is a situation it was never designed to handle and why the driver is required to pay attention the whole time.

If it was on at the time then either the human was paying attention and didn’t do anything or they had very recently looked away. Unfortunately at TX highway speeds a few seconds is a lot of ground.

Automotive radars often ignore stationary objects because they have trouble differentiating between a car parked in a lane vs. a car parked on the side of the road vs. an overhead metal road sign. If they didn't ignore stationary objects they would be slamming on the brakes in the middle of the freeway all the time.

Exactly. If this car crash is newsworthy, then that actually builds more trust in robotic driving.

i suppose it's good for bitcoin as well

Well almost certainly never know but I’d love to know why the CRV was stopped there in that configuration.

Why not turn on hazards? Had it been there long at all? Did the electrical system fail or something preventing the hazards/brake lights/etc?

And it was occluded by the driver in front, given "she was able to change lanes and avoid hitting the Honda."

(Friendly reminder to always have safety triangles, e.g. [1], in your car.)

[1] https://www.mcmaster.com/products/traffic-warning-triangles/

(but maybe don't try and deploy them when you're stopped in the middle of a 5-lane highway with your lights off)

Darn if only there was some easy to reach button for the driver to deploy flashing lights to notify other drivers of the potential hazard.

Perhaps true, though I suspect the public will demand higher safety than humans to feel comfortable with these on the roads, even if such fears could be irrational.

> I suspect the public will demand higher safety than humans to feel comfortable with these on the roads

Hasn't this ship sailed?

The people angry about self-driving cars aren't other drivers. They're people upset about displaced taxi jobs.

Not at all. I don’t care too much one way or the other for driving jobs, but I do care quite a bit about self driving car safety. They are being trained in an imperfect real world, and I don’t particularly want to find out if they ignore unmarked crosswalk laws (or other safety related stuff) as thoroughly as human drivers do.

I’m not alone. I’ve talked to plenty of people that recognize that car infrastructure is inherently unsafe in many places, the last thing I want is an incentive to have more vehicles driving around because now you don’t need humans inside the car.

Of course people care about safety. That doesn't translate to either public action nor public action requiring self-driving cars be safer than human-piloted ones. Look at every regulatory proceeding around self-driving cars, and the safety arguments are either drowned out by the jobs arguments or made principally by people motivated by job-loss concerns

My gut feeling is we're perfectly happy with self-driving cars that are even substantially worse than human-piloted ones, so long as they crash the way humans do. Rear ending in the dark, okay. Barreling full speed into a highway divider [1] or dragging pedestrians to get out of traffic [2], not.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/cars/2018/04/theres-growing-evidence...

[2] https://abc7news.com/cruise-autonomous-cars-gm-recall-sf-rob...

> My gut feeling is we're perfectly happy with self-driving cars that are even substantially worse than human-piloted ones, so long as they crash the way humans do. Rear ending in the dark, okay. Barreling full speed into a highway divider [1] or dragging pedestrians to get out of traffic [2], not.

No. I’m very not ok with this. Many human drivers are terrible. Most collisions are entirely avoidable, and I certainly don’t want more of the same from computers. If I keep getting my life put at risk more often by incompetent driverless cars, I’m going to be pissed! Maybe people that spend their time in cars agree with you, but as a cyclist and pedestrian the common accident modes are the ones that pose the greatest risk to me. Pinball off the jersey barricades all you want, but stop passing bikes too close, and plowing through crosswalks just because you can get away with it.

I’ve been hit twice on my bike, both times 100% the driver’s fault. The stakes are life and limb for me, so I absolutely do not accept a higher accident rate.

> They're people upset about displaced taxi jobs.

Eh? How many taxi jobs have these displaced? Like, I think the answer is essentially zero.

> Certainly a human driver could have easily made this mistake.

Yes, and we have clear rules and precedent for who is responsible. This scenario is rather more complicated.

The owners manual clearly says you are still responsible and it can’t detect stopped vehicles. The system does its best to ensure you’re watching the road with cameras to track your gaze.

Laws always tend to put the driver as the last stop in the chain responsible too.

This is very unfortunate. There’s a good chance that CRV was going to be hit if the Mach E avoided it.

But the person in the drivers seat is still the one responsible.

I would love to know the stories of both the Ford and Honda drivers. Doubt the public will ever know.

Though such rules and precedent may be clear, they don't put any blame on road design or manufacturers of cars. Someone driving 150mph--it is the drivers fault even though the manufacturer knows that there is no road that this is possible.

Nitpick: in Germany there are roads with no speed limit (it might still be imposed in case of "stau").

The probability that someone would have eventually hit this CR-V is approaching 100%.

Less so a machine with radar. Oh wait...

> Certainly a human driver could have easily made this mistake.

Certainly a heavily inebriated driver might have made this mistake if the car were difficult to see at a distance, but otherwise... no, I don't see this happening at all.

You lack imagination and/or driving experience; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_hypnosis. that said, driving tired is not uncommon and just as bad if not worse than driving drunk.

Thanks for sharing that.

I've experienced this many times as I used to drive a lot at night. To me it was like half of my mind falling asleep while the other half followed the white line for hours. I used to drive close to 70k miles at night every year, all along the same routes, with no stimulation, just the white line. I know I wasn't asleep or tired, but it was like driving in a dream sometimes.

It is probably much, much more common than we know, and I think this state would completely fool the attention-tracking systems in self-driving cars.

What is worse, many people drive the same routes commercially every night, like sleeper coach drivers. I think if they even did so much as spoke about this, it could significantly harm their careers. So it's unlikely that this demographic that could be most affected will talk about it openly. But there is almost nothing you can do to prevent it. After a certain number of thousands of miles along the same route, seeing the same white line, for hours, in the dark, you zone out.

Another thing that's making it worse is that I could only ever catch myself in this state when I already did something irresponsible. Like I'd go past a speed limit sign without reacting, and in a couple of seconds my brain would wake up to say "hey, something is happening, let's pay attention again". Otherwise, it's almost impossible to catch your mind drifting gently away.

I'm happy to finally put a label to the experience.

It was 9.50pm on a high speed road. I'm willing to bet 10 bucks you yourself would've crashed into it if you weren't aware.

I easily see it happening especially knowing the Ford was following another vehicle that could have easily completely occluded the stopped car until only a few of seconds before impact.

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