Here's What Utah Police Discovered About the Final Trip of That Tesla Model S

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
heres what utah police discovered about the final trip of that tesla model s

A few days after last Friday’s collision between an Autopilot-enabled Tesla Model S and a stopped fire department truck, police in South Jordan, Utah blew away the clouds of speculation by stating the Tesla driver was looking at her phone immediately prior to the collision. Witnesses claim the car, piloted by an on-board suite of semi-autonomous driving aids, didn’t brake as it approached the traffic signal (and the stopped truck).

Now we know the entirety of what occurred in the car in the minutes preceding the 60 mph impact.

In its Thursday release, the South Jordan Police Department reiterates what we already knew about the crash: that the 28-year-old driver admitted to engaging Autopilot (a combination of lane-keeping Autosteer and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control), and that she looked at her phone before the crash.

However, after reviewing the vehicle’s data logs, police were able to fill in the blanks. Here’s what they discovered:

The driver engaged Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control on multiple occasions during this drive cycle. She repeatedly cancelled and then re-engaged these features, and regularly adjusted the vehicle’s cruising speed.

Drivers are repeatedly advised Autopilot features do not make Tesla vehicles

“autonomous” and that the driver absolutely must remain vigilant with their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and they must be prepared to take any and all action necessary to avoid hazards on the road.

The vehicle registered more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel in this drive cycle.

On two such occasions, she had her hands off the wheel for more than one minute each time and her hands came back on only after a visual alert was provided. Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds.

About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within two seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again. She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time.

The vehicle was traveling at about 60 mph when the crash happened. This is the speed the driver selected.

The driver manually pressed the vehicle brake pedal fractions of a second prior to the crash.

Contrary to the proper use of Autopilot, the driver did not pay attention to the road at all times, did not keep her hands on the steering wheel, and she used it on a street with no center median and with stoplight controlled intersections.

Based on the findings, police issued a ticket to the Tesla driver (who’s currently nursing a broken foot) for “failure to keep proper lookout.” The detachment also mentions the investigation launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in which investigators will examine why the vehicle did not take evasive action to prevent the crash.

[Image: Wikimedia ( CC BY-SA 4.0)]

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  • Jmo Jmo on May 22, 2018

    The B&B seem to be under the mistaken impression that Teslas with autopilot crash more than Teslas without autopilot. The reality is they crash 40% less with autopilot.

    • See 2 previous
    • Jmo Jmo on May 22, 2018

      @Kalvin Knox So?

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on May 29, 2018

    They need to re-name the upcoming fully autonomous cars to "more phone time for Millennial's". Anything else should be construed as needing the driver to pay attention. naming this system "Auto-pilot" isn't helping the matter.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).