Latest Tesla crash invites closer scrutiny as autopilot held responsible

by Garry Anderson
2 minutes read

Tesla has confirmed to the police that the car’s autopilot was being used just before the car crashed. The automaker confirmed this through the data recovered from the Model S that was involved in the crash.

The Model S was being driven by a 28-year-old woman and according to Tesla, the driver didn’t didn’t touch the steering wheel for the 80 seconds leading up to colliding with a fire mechanic truck at about 60 miles per hour. The driver said she was looking at her phone prior to the crash and was issued a citation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already announced sending a special crash investigations team to gather information.

“The vehicle registered more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel in this drive cycle,” according to Tesla’s report. “On two such occasions, she had her hands off the wheel for more than one minute each time and her hands came back on only after a visual alert was provided. Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds.”

Tesla’s report blames the driver for being responsible for the crash. Tesla doesn’t use some systems that are being used by other automakers including General Motors Co for their semi-autonomous driving technology. To this Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the eye-tracking technology is ineffective because of which his company has rejected the technology.

GM features it in Cadillac models equipped its Super Cruise system. The driver used Autopilot on a street with no center median and with stop light-controlled intersections, which is “contrary to the proper use” of the system, according to Tesla’s report to police.

“When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.”

NHTSA will take ‘appropriate action’ based on its review of the crash, an agency spokesman said Wednesday in an email. Its probe is the latest by federal transportation agencies into a series of recent accidents involving Tesla vehicles.

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