A Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer’s Take On Elon Musk’s New Tunnel

January 3rd, 2019

As a personal injury lawyer, I deal with car accident cases everyday.  So I read with great interest recently about Elon Musk’s vision of creating a 1.14 mile underground tunnel in Hawthorne, California.  Might a tunnel help minimize car accident personal injury claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts?

Solving I-95 Highway Car Accidents In Providence and Rhode Island

Musk’s tunnel opened to the tune of $40 million dollars as a way to solve the “soul-destroying” traffic in urban areas.  In the suburbs of Hawthorne, people will be whisked through the tunnel at a speed of 150 miles per hour. This system consists of electric-powered platforms called the “Loop” that will allow in autonomous electric vehicles, like the Tesla Model 3, to transport passengers. For people with other, non-Tesla vehicles would also be allowed into the tunnel – only if they add deployable tracking wheels that will rub against the walls to hold the cars in place.

Car Accidents Caused by The Loop?

Elon Musk’s new tunnel plans to solve the traffic epidemics many urban cities face, but how will this help our safety? Surrendering your autonomy to a tunnel that will electrically carry your vehicle from one place to another might sound safe, but what if there was a software glitch or electrical problem?

These vehicles are traveling through the tunnel at speeds up to 150 mph, and if one vehicle were to malfunction, the possibility of a car accident chain reaction is very likely. Not only are these cars traveling at an extremely fast pace, but they cannot be individually controlled by the person sitting in the vehicle. The personal injuries that people could possibly face would be extremely serious, even fatal.

Not only would someone be able to file an auto accident claim if this were to ever happen, but someone would also be able to file a product liability lawsuit – whether it be from manufacturer negligence or strict liability.

This might seem like a smart step to fixing traffic issues, but safety factors should be thought of before creating something as high-tech as this tunnel. Features such as emergency breaks, annual software and electric updates, and other safety procedures should be added before building this tunnel in other cities.

While I welcome Musk’s vision, at this point in time, I have some reservations about whether this high speed system could be safely applied to minimize car accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts where I practice personal injury law.

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