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NTSB criticizes Caltrans for slow repairs following fatal Tesla crash in Mountain View

Original post made on Sep 9, 2019

A new report found that Caltrans failed to promptly fix damaged traffic safety equipment on U.S. Highway 101, including a barrier involved in a fatal Tesla crash in Mountain View last year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 9, 2019, 12:22 PM

Comments (7)

7 people like this
Posted by Chris C.
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 9, 2019 at 6:35 pm

I wonder if the NTSB considered the angle of the sun and the paint used on the road. Really. I recall from my commute that when the sun is at just the right angle along that stretch the road markings disappear in the glare.

Like this comment
Posted by That MV Guy
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 9, 2019 at 7:53 pm

Chris C., that does sound like a possibility. The sun would have been in front of the car that time of morning with the roadway headed roughly southeast. That might confuse camera-like optical sensors.

But I would think the laser scanner would have detected the unprotected barrier wall and avoided. Perhaps it's range/power is not adequate for that at high speeds.

If any Tesla employees who live around here have some info to offer without getting in trouble from the company, we're listening.

6 people like this
Posted by Nearby resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 10, 2019 at 12:26 am

5 accidents in the same spot in relatively short time is not incidental, seems like a hwy design fault. Please put some serious thought into it.

8 people like this
Posted by Kristen
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 10, 2019 at 5:46 am

This is a bad highway design. I live here. The left lane is an exit to another highway. Some people either don't pay attention or push the envelope and merge at the last second. They should put up 500 feet of white plastic dividers splitting the two lanes ahead of time. They installed these same 4' tall dividers on the Old Middlefield exit that is effective preventing people from changing lanes last minute.

10 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2019 at 12:32 pm

I agree, Kristen. Each time that we drive south on 101, there are vehicles that switch lanes at the last second. Most assume that the far-left HOV lane will continue going straight under the assumption that the the left-exit is optional.

The only other place that is confusing like this is the entrance to 101 going east from the Oregon Expressway. Every day, there are people who switch at the last possible moment. This has the added caveat of causing traffic issues.

In terms of this exit on 101: It would be nice if Caltrans could mark this particular stretch with very visible "must exit" signage and/or lane markers far enough away from the actual exit to give drivers (particularly those not familiar with this exit) time to be in the proper lane.

2 people like this
Posted by SouthPA3
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 10, 2019 at 3:50 pm

This was a tragic accident. I was driving this stretch of 101 every weekday in this time period and recall noticing that the paint markings on this split in the road at the barrier being completely worn out or missing at the time of the accident and then suddenly repainted after the accident and barrier repair. Driving a Tesla now has shown me how much the autopilot feature utilizes this sort of marking for lane keeping. I suspect a simple paint strip would have helped to potentially save a life in this particular case if the vehicle was indeed under autopilot control.
What a shame. Condolences to Wei Huang's family.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 3:58 pm

Driving 101 SB from Marsh, it is very evident that the road surface is potmarked with the striping from the previous construction. These scratches are almost more pronounced than the actual lane marking stripes. As these stripes start to fade, I reckon the scratched old potmarks will be more visible in some conditions than the fading lane markings.

It is not acceptable for the road surface to be this bad and Caltrans should not allow such a busy highway have such poor safety markings.

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