Investigators find Tesla involved in fatal crash was operating on Autopilot

Investigators find Tesla involved in fatal crash was operating on Autopilot
© Greg Nash

Federal investigators determined Thursday that the Tesla involved in a fatal crash this March was operating on the company's Autopilot system.

The accident occurred when a Tesla Model 3 did not stop and struck a truck on a Florida highway, shearing the roof of the Tesla off and killing the driver.

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the Tesla's autopilot system was engaged about 10 seconds before the crash and that the driver's hands were not detected on the steering wheel in the eight seconds leading to the accident.

The crash remains under investigation by the NTSB and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on the NTSB's findings.

Autopilot has been found to be engaged in previous accidents involving Teslas, including a similar 2016 crash in Florida.

The company has maintained that the system is not a replacement for drivers and that drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.

A Tesla spokesperson told The Hill the company reached the same conclusions as the NTSB about the crash and stressed that autopilot is safe if drivers stay engaged.

“Shortly following the accident, we informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board that the vehicle’s logs showed that Autopilot was first engaged by the driver just 10 seconds prior to the accident, and then the driver immediately removed his hands from the wheel. Autopilot had not been used at any other time during that drive. We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” the spokesperson said.

“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.”