Feb 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy
Investigation finds Tesla Autopilot not at fault in fatal Texas crash
A mysterious Tesla crash that killed two men in the spring of 2021 was not caused by the vehicle’s automated driving system, a new National Highway Transportation Safety Administration investigation found.
Driving the news: Investigators determined that the Tesla’s Autopilot feature could not have been used where the crash happened, because the suburban street lacked lane lines.
- After the crash, the car’s driver’s seat was found empty, leading to questions over whether Tesla’s Autopilot feature, which enables a vehicle to steer, brake and accelerate on their own, malfunctioned.
Details: The car, a 2019 Model S, reached 67 miles per hour before jumping a curb and slamming into a tree at 57 mph. Flames consumed it when its battery caught fire.
- The driver, a 59-year-old, was wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred, but ended up in the back seat after colliding with the car’s front air bag and mangling the steering wheel.
- The car’s high speed and the driver’s impairment - his blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit in Texas - caused the crash, the report stated.
The big picture: In a 12-month span, Teslas accounted for roughly 70% of the 392 car crashes involving vehicles using an advanced driver assistance system, a separate NHTSA analysis found last year.
- The Department of Justice requested information from the automaker about its automated driving system last month, Telsa confirmed to investors, Bloomberg reported.
- Reuters reported last fall that the DOJ investigation into Tesla is a criminal probe.