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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

The United States National Transportation Safety Board today conducted a hearing dissecting the fatal 2018 crash of Apple engineer Walter Huang, who was using the autopilot feature of a Tesla Model X, reports CNBC.


The NTSB called Tesla's Autosteer feature "completely inadequate" and said that Tesla's forward collision warning system did not provide an alert, nor did the automatic emergency braking system activate, but the board also had some choice words for Apple.

At the time of the crash, Huang was playing a game on his company-issued development iPhone. He was not paying attention to the road and likely did not have his hands on the steering wheel as the Tesla was in Autopilot mode.
So first let me say, if you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car. Don't pretend that you do. This means that when driving in the supposed "self-driving" mode: you can't sleep; you can't read a book; you can't watch a movie or TV show; you can't text; and, you can't play video games. And, that is precisely what we found in this crash - the driver was playing a video game on his smartphone when his car veered into the median barrier.
In a statement, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt criticized Apple for not having a policy that prevents employees from using their iPhones while driving.
Let me circle back to the issue of driver distraction - one that involves the role of employers. Employers have a critical role in fighting distracted driving. At the NTSB, we believe in leading by example. Over a decade ago, under the leadership of my former colleague and NTSB chairman, Debbie Hersman, NTSB implemented a broad-reaching policy which bans using Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) while driving. We know that such policies save lives.

The driver in this crash was employed by Apple - a tech leader. But when it comes to recognizing the need for a company PED policy, Apple is lagging because they don't have such a policy.
During the hearing, the NTSB said [PDF] that employers play an important role in preventing distracted driving. A strong policy is an effective strategy for cutting down on distracted driving, and Apple has no policy that prohibits cell phone use while driving.

Apple in a response provided to CNBC, said "We expect our employees to follow the law." In California, where the crash took place, there are distracted driving laws that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, even in vehicles with an autopilot mode.

Apple has also implemented a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that activates when a driver attempts to use a cellular phone while driving, though it can be disabled.

The NTSB's goal is to get all employers to implement and enforce policies that ban the use of personal electronic devices while driving.

Article Link: NTSB Criticizes Apple After Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash for Not Banning Employee Smartphone Use While Driving


macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2009
It has nothing to do with the employer. The individual in question was the one possibly breaking the law (distracted driving, if that applies where the accident took place).

Should my employer have a policy on driving over the speed limit? Food delivery places would like a word with you lol


macrumors 68030
Jun 6, 2005
Thats a new low in being ridiculous. My company doesn't have a policy that I don't jump off cliffs, but I don't because I am an adult that doesn't want to die. Why would Apple have such a policy? Should they have a helmet with motorcycle policy? A don't drink don't drive policy? Companies are jobs, not our moms.


macrumors 68040
Oct 22, 2010
Next time: The victim was eating sandwich - lets blame the sandwich makers!

For real? I mean if you are stupid enough to take your eyes off and don't pay attention (especially when you work for tech company so you probably know its far from perfect) then you shouldn't be surprised to crash.
In this case, the punishment was the ultimate one.

Is it really needed to be said that if you drive a car then you are responsible for that car? Or are people really that naive to think that the car will drive itself despite Tesla saying you need to pay attention.
How much handholding do you really need? Is common sense really gone these days?


macrumors 68000
Oct 26, 2013
What an utter load of crap - does Apple need to make it company policy not to rob and murder people too???

Using your phone while driving is illegal, it’s not Apple’s job to tell it’s employees not to do illegal things - that literally goes without saying.

Apple’s one line response to this is perfect.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2014
Hamburg, Germany
That's why I always found it irresponsible of Tesla to call their driving assistance system "Autopilot", when it really wasn't that much more capable than the driving assistance systems other manufacturers have to offer, which aren't advertised in such a dangerously misleading way.

People need to understand that Teslas are not autonomous cars.
They're level 2 automation still and getting closer to level 3, just like everyone else.


macrumors regular
Nov 27, 2010
That’s what laws are for. And penalties for breaking laws exist because we know people won’t follow laws all the time. It’s not a company’s place to recodify every law into company policy, that’s asinine. Driving a company vehicle? Sure. Driving while on company business? Sure. I guess it’s apples fault if an employee murders someone on their day off... “wasn’t against policy....”
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