Tesla CEO and SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk has passionately defended self-driving technology despite the fact it has come under intense scrutiny following a number of fatalities where vehicles where in self-driving or autopilot mode.
In March, a 38 year-old man named Walter Huang was killed when the Tesla Model X he was travelling in which was in autopilot mode crashed into a barrier in Mountain View, California. That accident came just weeks after an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode killed a pedestrian who was crossing a quiet road in Arizona. Uber was forced to suspend the self-driving program it had in operation in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Arizona.
However, Musk has moved to blast reports after another Tesla crash made headline news across the United States. Musk lamented on Twitter about what he portrayed as an unfair focus on mishaps rather than benefits of autonomous vehicles with the potential to make roads safer.
In the tweet, the South African entrepreneur said, "It's super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage. What's actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle."
Whether an Autopilot feature was engaged when a Model S collided with the rear of a stopped fire truck in the US state of Utah on May 11 remained to be confirmed.
Musk complained in a recent earnings call that accidents involving self-driving cars get sensational headlines while the potential for the technology to save lives is downplayed or ignored.
The NTSB is also investigating a Tesla Model S crash that left two people dead and another injured in Florida. Autopilot self-driving capabilities of the Tesla were not expected to be involved, the NTSB said. The NTSB had yet to announce whether they will be looking into the Utah crash.