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Autopilot Engaged Before Fatal Tesla Model 3 Crash

A fatal crash involving a Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot which occurred on March 1st in Delray Beach, Florida, is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Does this latest Tesla fatal crash spell trouble for the electric car maker?

Preliminary Report On Tesla Fatal Crash

A preliminary report has just been released on the accident, which occurred when the Tesla slammed into a semi-truck.  The NTSB states that the Autopilot feature had been activated only ten seconds before the collision, and during the eight seconds just prior to impact, Tesla did not detect the driver’s hands on the wheel. 

According to initial data, the Tesla was traveling at 68 miles per hour when it hit the truck, 13 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.  The truck was making a left turn across the highway when the Model 3 hit the side of the trailer and slid beneath it, shearing off the roof as it went.  The Tesla continued driving for about 1,600 feet before coming to a stop. 

None of the Tesla data nor its videos suggest that the driver or Autopilot attempted to perform any evasive maneuvers to avoid the accident.  It is unknown whether the driver received any warnings that may have been ignored.

The driver of the Model 3, Jeremy Banner, died at the scene.  The driver of the semi-truck did not receive any injuries.

Previous Fatal Autopilot Accidents

A Tesla Model S driver died near Williston, Florida, in May of 2016 while Autopilot was engaged.  He also crashed into a semi-truck and sheared off the roof of his vehicle.

In March 2018, a Model X driver was driving in Autopilot mode when he was killed.  According to Tesla, he had received warnings to put his hands on the wheel but apparently took no action before the crash occurred.

“We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” said Tesla in a statement regarding the latest incident.  “Tesla drivers have logged more than one billion miles with Autopilot engaged, and our data shows that, when used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times, drivers supported by Autopilot are safer than those operating without assistance. For the past three quarters we have released quarterly safety data directly from our vehicles which demonstrates that.”

What Now?

The NTSB will continue to investigate the crash, and is expected to release a final report sometime in the next 12 to 24 months.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will also investigate the incident, and said Thursday that it is “carefully evaluating all available data and will share any findings upon conclusion of its investigation.”

The NTSB can only make safety recommendations, but the NHTSA can order a recall if they believe some aspect of a vehicle posts an unreasonable safety risk to the general public.

One comment

  1. Richard Garrett

    Every driving feature will be abused by some.
    Darwin was right. Natural Selection. I don’t use
    Autopilot because I am uncomfortable holding
    my hands on the wheel while not doing
    anything. I love the front radar, especially in
    stop and go traffic. I am 70 and used common
    sense to get to this age.

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