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Is the Tesla Model S Pedal Placement A Safety Hazard? 394

cartechboy (2660665) writes "When things go wrong with the Tesla Model S electric car, its very loyal--and opinionated--owners usually speak up. And that's just what David Noland has done. An incident in which his Model S didn't stop when he pressed the brake pedal scared him--and got him investigating. He measured pedal spacing on 22 different new cars at dealers--and his analysis suggests that the Tesla pedal setup may be causing what aviation analysts call a 'design-induced pilot error'. And pedal design, as Toyota just learned to the tune of $1.2 billion, is very important indeed in preventing accidents."
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Is the Tesla Model S Pedal Placement A Safety Hazard?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2014 @04:53PM (#46567747)

    Size 13 winter boots. Brake pedal and gas aren't "as far" apart as other cars.

    User Error != Manufacturer Defect

  • Tesla (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @04:53PM (#46567749)

    Hey look, some idiot hit the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal and it's "news" because it was a Tesla.

  • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @05:00PM (#46567859) Homepage

    Before posting crap like this for the love of god at least consider the difference in number between the most popular car on the road and a super expensive specialty vehicle that very few people own. Somehow I am not surprised that with only 25,000 cars on the road there are less reports of problems with the tesla than there are with the 3.2 million prius' sold world wide.

    Obviously its just a conspiracy and also there is clearly no way that anyone at tesla could ever make a poor design decision.

  • Re:Tesla (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @05:42PM (#46568489) Homepage

    Getting behind the wheel of an automatic and putting it into gear and it starts moving is scary! Cars are designed to go to a halt without active user input, but for some reason automatics has mindblowingly retarded defaults that makes them move unless you floor the brake! Automatics are just scary scary things of EPIC UI FAIL!

  • by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @05:58PM (#46568685)

    Heel and toe is a bit stupid in a car without gears...

    The Tesla is a 1-speed fixed gear ratio (9.73:1). So technically it does have gears. But you can't change them while driveing. Only by tearing the car apart to swap out a different set of gears. In the sense that the GP meant, no the car does not have gears. At least none that you can change(shift) while driving the car. So as the GP correctly stated, it is pointless to heel-toe in a Tesla.

  • by citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @05:59PM (#46568701)

    "So I'd have to conclude that the problem lies between the pedals and the seat in this case.

    And I know cause I drive [a tesla] daily and I have managed to double pedal a total of two-three times when being lazy..."

    So there was a problem with the driver in your case as well then?
    In my 20 years of driving many different cars, this has never happened to me. Not once. And I have size 15 feet, and regularly wear combat boots. The fact that you are saying you had the exact same experience on the exact same car - how can that NOT be a design flaw?

    Your anecdote exactly proves his point! Unless you are calling yourself the problem. Do you really love tesla so much you would rather blame yourself?

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @06:18PM (#46568923) Homepage

    Is this the same bullshit that almost made Audi pull out of the US? It looks like it.

    The bullshit was Audi blaming the customers for confusing the pedals. The fault was elsewhere. I know - I owned an Audi 5000T that did this.

    I was driving on an interstate highway on cruise control - my feet were not touching the pedals. The car suddenly went to full throttle. I could move the throttle pedal up and down with my foot. The brake pedal would not budge. I shut off the cruise control via a dashboard switch, and regained control. After the turbo boost dropped below atmospheric pressure, I regained brakes. I later discovered the check valve on the vacuum assist was worn, causing the loss of brakes when the turbo was on boost. The throttle issue was clearly the cruise control malfunction. It never did it again. I could not duplicate the fault, so I suspect poor RF shielding (trucker using a hopped up CB radio?).

    I contacted Audi, and they blew me off.

    To their credit, they stopped using the check valve method, so someone at Audi understood the fault condition. I'm less sure about the other issue. I solved the problem by deciding never to buy another Audi.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @06:25PM (#46569007) Homepage Journal

    User Error != Manufacturer Defect

    That's incorrect. The set user error induced accidents and the set of design error induced accidents intersect each other.

    If you look deeply into most mishaps, you'll usually see a series of errors that compound each other. Often the omission of any one of them would have prevented the mishap. If it is foreseeable that a person wearing winter footwear might depress the accelerator when he intends to use the brake, *and* a simple design change could prevent this, the manufacturer ought to make the change.

    This is distinct from when a user *misuses* a feature. I have a friend that manufactures a sports car pedal extender that allows drivers on a track to simultaneously work the brake and accelerator []. It's an aftermarket modification meant for track use, and it's the customer's responsibility to exercise special caution if he leaves the device installed in a car he drives on the street. The customer has to be aware of the potential for unintended acceleration because he installed the device himself. The reason that the sports car pedal isn't designed to facilitate heel-and-toe shifting is that it would surprise people accustomed to "normal" controls who bought the car for cruising around on public roads.

    You have to take the characteristics of the user population in mind when designing a product. So the very qualities which make the aftermarket modification a good design would be a design *flaw* on a car intended primarily for on-street use by less-than-serious drivers.

  • by danlor ( 309557 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @07:31PM (#46569585) Homepage

    I disagree.

    I feel that pressing the brake pedal should stop the car, no matter what other pedals or switches are engaged. To me, the brake pedal is the god pedal. It rules all others.

  • I think I know the context of my own comment.

    But you don't, and therefore you said something amazingly stupid.

    Good job trying to tell me what I'm saying though.

    No, I know precisely what you're trying to say. You're trying to say that you're an asshole and a pedant who will willfully ignore what the prior poster was trying to say so that you can put them down so that you can feel good about yourself. You're therefore a bully, therefore a shitheel. And I am saying this not to make myself feel better, but to make you feel worse, in the hopes that you'll go throw yourself off of something tall. Or at least consider your next comment before you hit submit.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @11:17PM (#46571057) Journal

    I thoroughly disagree. As a UX designer, I consider my design "in need of improvement" if it's designed such that it's easy to make specific, known errors. A few hours ago I was on the phone with a customer who uses my Strongbox software. He was making the same error that many other people make. That many people make the error proves to me that the software doesn't make it sufficiently obvious what the correct action is.
      about when you've been in sometime else's car at night. Often you have to hunt for the door lever and especially on older cars you have to figure out if the handle should be rotated upward, pulled out and back, out and forward, etc. Doors on buildings often have instructions posted on them - Push or Pull. Other buildings don't need instructions - the door has a flat metal plate that can only be pushed. It can't be pulled or turned, it's a flat plate. Emergency exits get it right - a wide, flat bar is obviously for pushing. Some doors, like one I sawlast week, get it ENTIRELY wrong - that one had a round knob - which needed to be SLID to the side. Round knobs are for turning! Vertical slits or projections are for sliding to the side. Not surprisingly, I saw two different people struggle with that door until someone helped them.

    We talked about the handles inside of cars. Contrast that with the handles on the outside of a car door. That's a good design. Noone will ever need help figuring out how to operate an exterior car door handle because the design is such that the user can only do one thing - insert fingers and pull.

    I seek to make my designs be like exterior car handles - intuitively obvious. With the right design, not only do users not make errors, they aren't even distracted by looking at the UX, figuring it out. They just do it automatically, intuitively, like opening the door to get into a car.

    Credit to The Design of Everyday Things for the door handle example.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger