E-Mode: Applying First Principles To A Complicated Law That Many Drivers Don’t Know Exists — Part 1
James Law, a wreck technician and researcher who has been struck a total of four times while working, has a solution and invention that would apply first principles to a complicated law that many drivers are unaware of. It would also save lives.
In a nutshell, James has developed a life-saving concept called “E-Mode” that is part of a seven-tier program named Wreckonize that can reduce struck-by incidents.
He wants to donate E-Mode to Tesla. I’ve written extensively about this before. However, Kacey Green and Trevor Page of Tesla Owners Online noticed that their Teslas have been slowing down for emergency vehicles and that resurfaced the topic. Kacey has even received a message on the screen about it.
As I’ve said on a few streams now, my car has been slowing for emergency vehicles, tonight I got the message on the screen explicitly stating this, then a separate one for slow traffic in the lane to my left.
They were on the shoulder & I was center lane. 👍
— Kacey Green (@GCustom) October 1, 2021
— ⚡️Tesla Owners Online (@Model3Owners) September 25, 2021
James’ goal is to help Tesla comply well with Move Over laws, particularly as Tesla is developing FSD. This is a two-part article and this one will cover these two points.
- Why E-Mode is being donated to Elon for Tesla
- How Elon Musk’s First-Principles Thinking Helps Move Over Laws Evolve
Before we dive in, E-Mode is a light sequence technology that James created to automate compliance with the Move Over law.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that after being law for 25 years, 71% of Americans don’t even know what it is. This law was put in place to prevent the deaths of emergency personnel and civilians who have to pull over on the side of the road.
“The AAA has reported that the people who do know about these laws are confused and the reason for this is because every state has different laws.”
Unintelligent ICE vehicles, James explained, have a high body count.
“The body count was 38 struck by deaths of responders and now it is at 49: 21 Law enforcement, 18 Tow Ops, 7 fire/EMS, 1 Mobil Mechanic, 2 Safety-Service Patrol Operators.
”The number has gone up just recently and it’s now at 51 not 49.”
James also noted that two Tesla Road Side Assistance (RSA) providers were killed. He added that in 2020, there were a total of 46 responders killed, and in 2019, 44 responders were killed.
Why It’s Going To Elon For Tesla
The first reason is simple logic. By giving this to Elon Musk, obviously, he will give E-Mode to the Tesla fleet — every Tesla owner and everyone in the community will benefit from this safety feature. James noted that with Tesla’s open-source attitude, eventually, all carmakers can use the light sequences — once they see the light (pun intended).
Moreover, it would make Tesla the first company in history to have complete Move Over Law awareness of its customers and the fleet.
“E-mode isn’t just light sequences, it’s a prescribed behavior.”
James explained that he’s studied these laws in every province in Canada and every state in the U.S. He’s also studied them in Australia and is studying them in other countries. The key problem is confusion regarding these laws.
He pointed out that they need to be simplified in a similar fashion as to how we were taught what to do when we are on fire. You stop, drop and roll. Clear, precise, and easy to remember.
“When you see a car on the side of the road whether it’s a fire truck or just a civilian, the behavior that Tesla will do will be for all vehicles because these laws are slowly changing. They’re evolving. I know where they’re going to evolve to.”
James explained that he knows the complete 25-year history of the Move Over Laws and that he’s friends with the person who started the laws. His friend started out as an EMS technician and was struck in 1994. This inspired him to lead efforts that eventually began what is now known as the Move Over laws. The laws started out for emergency vehicles and have since expanded to tow trucks in all 50 states.
However, 10 states have now included any vehicle with hazard lights on the side of the highway in order to protect civilians as well. While James had been looking into Tesla and started to learn and understand Elon Musk, he discovered Elon’s “first principles” approach to problems.
James explained that he was lucky. The first time he had been struck, he was 18 and had just started his company. It taught him to become hyper-aware of traffic. He started training and teaching his employees what to watch out for in traffic flow and how to survive while working the scene of a wreck or incident on the side of the road.
These protocols that James put in place saved his life a total of four times. But the problem now is how does oncoming traffic deal with these situations? Obviously, following the law is a must, but as the NHTSA said, 71% of drivers don’t know of these laws. This is where James applied Elon’s first-principles approach.
“Looking at the complications of these laws, it’s just so complicated that your brain will go crazy trying to read all of these laws. So I try to do what Elon does. What do we know about Elon? You take something really complicated and you simplify it into an undeniable truth. Stop making stuff, there’s no more stuff.”
Solving a Complicated Problem
The inconsistencies in the wording of the Move Over laws between states (because traffic laws must be passed by each individual state) have understandably led to confusion.
For the past 10 years, James has pushed for a straightforward protocol based on physics. Simple, clear, and precise. However, there is very little incentive to change these laws, and when there is change, it’s usually to increase penalties.
Looking for a solution in Tesla’s AI, James came across the video where Elon explains using first principles for problem-solving. When James applied this first principles physics method, he found what Elon calls a “fundamental truth.”
James explained that there was consistency in cases where an emergency vehicle was hit. He has looked at several hundred struck-by incidents and it’s there.
He brought his findings to his friend, James D. Garcia, who had originally started the Move Over laws and has been a safety advocate at the Emergency Responders Safety Institute since 2002.
He also helped get the Move Over laws written into Chapter 6. I-MUTCD 2002 Edition Federal Highway Administration. James told me that it didn’t take long for Mr. Garcia to realize that James’ findings using Elon’s first principles method had clearly ended a 25-year argumentative phase. Ending the “and/or” debate. This was a pivotal moment in the history of this 100-year-old problem
The debate was about these wordings:
- Move over or slow down
- Slow down or move over
- Move over and slow down
- Slow down and move over
- And the variation in specific speed reduction
“Simple, and unarguable.”
James shared what he called an immutable universal fundamental truth:
“People have hit and killed people with a vehicle by not moving over. People have hit and killed people with a vehicle by not slowing down. People have hit and killed people with a vehicle by not being prepared to stop. But, zero — not one single death — has occurred by a vehicle that slowed down, then moved over and was prepared to stop.
“‘Slow Down, Then Move over and be prepared to stop.’ If you cannot move into the next lane, you can still Slow Down, Then Move Over within your lane. If you have to stop to avoid a collision, then stop. All lanes are affected.”
James told me that on that night, they both agreed on the wording for the laws for humans. James went on to write the protocols for autonomous vehicles that surpass human behavior based on first principles, the laws of physics, and Asimov’s three laws to robotics, hence E-Mode!
“Mr. Garcia’s mission is now for uniformity and consistency of legislation wording. This will take time.”
What does this mean for Tesla? If Elon adopts E-Mode and programs Tesla with the respective behavior, the Tesla fleet surpasses the expectations of the current Move Over laws in every state and every province.
“E-Mode will be semi-automated where the driver easily triggers the respective sequence Right, Left, or All Stop.”
As for full automation E-Modes, James has not disclosed any information on that to protect the idea for Tesla.
“I can’t say much about it except that there’s more than meets the eye. It’s a mind-blowing aspect of the feature and that’ll be Elon’s job to announce that, not mine.”
Speaking of jobs, James told me that after Part Deux of this article, he’ll be applying at Tesla to be an ADAS Operator. He believes Tesla could be trained to “Wreckonize” these hazards within a year. This would set the example for all companies.
“In ten years, struck by incidents could be a thing of the past”
Stay tuned for Part Deux: How Tesla is actively changing traffic behavior and how the Cybertruck could play a major role in reducing struck-by incidents, saving the government millions of dollars in the process. That’ll be coming in 2 weeks-ish, Elon time.
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