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 ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' MORE (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersRepublicans to hand out 'baseball cards' mocking Gary Peters in Michigan Election security funds passed by Senate seen as welcome first step Democrats introduce bill to block taxpayer-funded spending at Trump properties 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.