A ton of Tesla FSD Beta videos are popping up lately as select owners with the beta version of the software show off their cars bumbling along city streets, but there’s something particularly terrifying and heartless about this one in Detroit, where even a minor car crash can literally ruin a person’s whole life.
Detroit Tesla is a YouTube channel run by Toni Ezero, who has been documenting his experiments with FSD. He took his Tesla out to travel from Corktown, where Ford is headquartering its self-driving research offices in the iconic Detroit Central Station, through downtown to the east side.
Now, to be fair, Detroit roads are a fucking mess, especially during the winter and especially especially in the Corktown/Downtown area. For one thing, the section of Michigan Avenue he started out on is paved with brick — and not particularly well-maintained brick either. For another, the roads were coated in slush and ice, which Ezero pointed out the FSD isn’t really prepared for.
Several times he was surprised by how the Tesla waited too long to apply the brake or was traveling too fast; something anyone who has driven on snowy streets knows isn’t a good idea. But what’s really horrible to see is how often he was fooling around with the touchscreen in downtown traffic or needing to correct steering when another car was next to his.
Because here’s the thing: This isn’t some sunny California city where everyone has to make six figures just to live there. This is Detroit, where grinding poverty is rampant. Perpetuating this poverty are some of the nation’s highest insurance rates: On average $3,148 a year, MLive reports. It’s so high that an estimate 20 percent of Detroiters drive without it, despite insurance being required by law. This city has pitiful public transit, which doesn’t always extended to the suburbs where the vast majority of jobs are located. It’s a culmination of factors that puts residents between a rock and a hard place and contributes to keeping Detroiters poor.
Even a minor car crash, say, one caused by an overpriced toy treating other people’s lives and vehicles as test subjects, could quite literally ruin someone’s life. Drivers caught without insurance face driver responsibility fees for two consecutive years, a possible year of jail time, a 30-day suspension of their license (which costs another $125 to reinstate) and reimbursement of losses, such as the cost of the car plus any medical bills incurred that would have been paid for by auto insurance. The party without car insurance is barred from suing the other party to pay those bills, even if the crash was caused by the Tesla. Michigan’s no-fault insurance means the person hit by Ezero’s Tesla would be responsible for his medical costs. It’s one of the reasons I stopped accepting press cars, as I didn’t want a simple mistake to ruin the lives of any of my fellow Detroiters.
Yes, driving with insurance is the law, but Detroiters have been given a completely unfair shake. Their options are often drive illegally or slip further into poverty. I’m sure Ezero doesn’t want to ruin anyone’s lives. Maybe he should take his testing out to the richer suburbs where car insurance is cheaper and incomes are higher. North of Eight Mile, Ezero is more likely to have his plaything mess up a day, rather than an entire life. Or maybe, just don’t test dangerous technology on an unwitting public at all.