NTSB won't investigate Tesla that crashed into parked police car

NTSB won't investigate Tesla that crashed into parked police car
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday said it will not investigate the Tesla that crashed into a parked police car in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the safety agency noted in a statement to The Hill that the board is not required to probe all collisions.

“There is no requirement for the NTSB to investigate all highway crashes, and, more specifically, there is no requirement for the NTSB to investigate all electric vehicle crashes, or, crashes where use of automation is reported,” the spokesperson said.

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“The NTSB has several ongoing investigations where use of automation is an area of interest, including the Culver City, CA, Tempe, AZ, and Mountain View, CA, crashes.” 

The spokesperson was referring to two recent crashes involving Tesla vehicles that were reportedly operating on autopilot and a fatal incident in Arizona where a self-driving Uber vehicle hit and killed a female pedestrian. The driver operating the Tesla Model X that crashed in Mountain View, Calif., was killed.

The Laguna Beach Police Department said Tuesday that a Tesla sedan was functioning on autopilot when it crashed into a parked police SUV. The Tesla driver experienced “minor injuries,” while the police vehicle was unmanned at the time of the collision, police said.

The crash is the latest in a series of recently reported collisions involving autonomous vehicles.

A spokesperson for Tesla emphasized the driver’s responsibility when operating a vehicle functioning on autopilot.

"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,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement.

"Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents, and before a driver can use Autopilot, they must accept a dialogue box which states that ‘Autopilot is designed for use on highways that have a center divider and clear lane markings.’”

The Tuesday crash also comes as the Senate's driverless car bill, which would speed up the development and testing of autonomous vehicles, remains stalled in the upper chamber despite receiving unanimous approval from the Senate Commerce Committee.

Several Democratic senators in March expressed concerns to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Senate Commerce chair to renew push for regs on self-driving vehicles Hillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy MORE (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersSenate Commerce chair to renew push for regs on self-driving vehicles Senate Dems introduce election security bill requiring paper ballots Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems MORE (D-Mich.) that the legislation may not implement adequate safety provisions. Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ed Markey (Mass.) and Tom Udall (N.M.) signed the letter to the chairman and Peters, the ranking member of the panel's surface transportation subcommittee.

Meanwhile, 79 percent of respondents in a recent poll conducted in California, Michigan, Florida and South Dakota said they would be either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about safety if autonomous vehicles were in their city.