A fire department in Waco, Texas is urging drivers to "sit up" and "pay attention" after a Tesla sedan collided with a fire engine on I-35 yesterday. The driver was going southbound and the fire truck was parked near a crash zone to help divert traffic and protect first responders on the scene.
The accident occurred on Interstate 35 in a construction zone, according to the Waco Tribune. The Tesla hit the front driver side of the fire truck, damaging the bumper, emergency lights and door area. Initial reports are indicating that the driver "may have been distracted" before the crash.
Waco Deputy Fire Chief R.M. Bergerson said:
“We would just like to ask everyone to pay attention while they are driving and keep in mind with the expansion of I-35, traveling may become more difficult through Waco in the next four years. We are going to continue to do what we need to do, but we hope drivers will pay attention and drive safe.”
Bergerson also commented that this crash highlighted the need for all motorists to "remain vigilant". He noted that distracted drivers have put local firefighters at risk in recent years, especially his station who often responds to accidents on I-35.
The "blocking procedure" - where the firetrucks block off an accident scene to keep first responders safe - was implemented after October 2015, when another driver seriously injured two firefighters while crews were working to put out a grass fire near the interstate. In that instance, one firefighter was severely injured.
“That incident actually totaled Engine No. 5, because it hit so hard. Our current engine replaced it, but it’s been hit a few more times,” Bergerson said.
This incident comes during a difficult year in terms of public relations for Tesla. Most recently, an unplugged Tesla in San Francisco caught fire while parked in a garage, days after another Tesla burst into flames in a Chinese parking garage. The company's financials also looked close to spontaneously combusting when Tesla reported an ugly Q1 in late April, weeks before its recent
desperate cash infusion capital raise.
In this case, the firetruck served its purpose by protecting the first responders on the scene, but we have to ask how this incident would have played out without the truck standing in the way of the Tesla and emergency workers? How long will regulators let these types of accidents go un-investigated? How long until someone loses their life and the potential blame starts to shift from Tesla to the NHTSA and NTSB?