NHTSA Investigating Another Tesla Crash

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nhtsa investigating another tesla crash

Barely two weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last opened an investigation into a Tesla crash, the federal agency is once again probing a collision involving a Tesla vehicle — this one a fatal incident.

The agency announced this week that a December 29th crash in Gardena, California that killed two occupants of a 2006 Honda Civic will fall under its purview.

While the existence of an inquiry doesn’t confirm vehicular malpractice on the part of Tesla, the NHTSA does want to confirm whether the 2019 Tesla Model S involved in the Los Angeles County collision was operating on Autopilot at the time of the crash.

In December, the NHTSA opened its 12th Tesla crash investigation after a Model 3 operating on Autopilot smashed into the back of a parked police cruiser in Norwalk, Connecticut. The cruiser had its lights activated at the time.

In the Gardena incident, the Model S exited the 91 freeway, ran a red light, then impacted the rear of the Civic, NBC reported. Police sources provided the basis for this claim.

While Autopilot use hasn’t been confirmed in the Gardena crash, many Tesla customers continue to misuse the company’s semi-autonomous driving system — a tech package combining lane-holding and autosteer functionality. Last year, the automaker added the function of lane changing. Though the company now stresses that drivers using Autopilot must maintain focus on the road ahead and be prepared to take over at a moment’s notice (the vehicle issues prompts to get hands back on the wheel after a certain amount of time), the mere existence of the system opens the door to misuse.

Other advanced driver-assist systems, like Cadillac’s Super Cruise, utilize a driver-monitoring camera to ensure eyes remain on the road. If the Cadillac driver shows too much inattention, the system (eventually) shuts down until the vehicle is stopped and restarted. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has resisted the use of such a camera.

[Image: Tesla]

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  • Tstag Tstag on Jan 06, 2020

    The problem with this type of semi autonomous system is that drivers will switch off when tired, often unknowingly. Unlike piloting a plane there are plenty more obstacles cars can crash into. If you switch off flying a plane the chances of an accident are much lower when on auto pilot. Regulators need to recognise this or face increasing numbers of fatalities from this sort of feature

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    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 07, 2020

      @Vulpine Again, I'm only talking about the "misuse" of the technology. Those that "believe" Autopilot is "SELF DRIVING" and "turn it loose" in public. So yeah, how can we separate its "correct use" from the bad, meaning wrongful use, where if provable, a driver can held liable for manslaughter. That's the only question here. Except technology can insure a driver is watching the road ahead, like Cadillac's system. Yes nothing is a 100% "foolproof" at this point or "level 2", but Tesla doesn't seem remotely interested in curbing the misuse of Autopilot. And all the while, Elon is laughing all the way to the bank. At least in theory.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Jan 06, 2020

    The only bad thing about a crashed Telsa is that the Tesla owner survives while killing someone else.

  • Chris P Bacon I had a chance to drive 2 Accords back to back as rentals. The first was a base ICE LX. I was underwhelmed. The next was a Sport Hybrid. Like night and day. So much so that I ventured on to the grounds of my local dealer. Was looking for a Sport or Sport-L. Autotrader showed nothing within 250 miles. Dealer confirmed. Told me I'd have to "get on the list" for a delivery, and there was a non-negotiable $3k "market adjustment". I guess I'll have to hope to see one on the Emerald Aisle again.
  • DungBeetle62 I just this past weekend rented one of these for 5 days in SoCal and with $5.29 the best I could find for gas, this ride's wonderful combination of comfort and thrift was welcome indeed. My biggest real beef is with the entire Accord product line - with that angle of backlight, not having this as a 5-door hatch seems a real waste of space.
  • RICHARD I bought my wife the exact car in the picture 3 weeks ago. Acceleration is average for the class. Smoothness of the powertrain, competent ride dynamics, quietness, and comfort are definitely pluses. The styling is restrained for sure, but we weren't looking for a shouty car that doesn't deliver on the design statement. She drives about 8,000 miles per year, mostly around town. At the current rate, we expect to buy about 16 gallons of gas per month. This really is a car that appears to do everything well rather than excelling at a few things to the detriment of others.
  • Ajla "2010-2019 Borrego"The Borrego only had model years 2009 - 2011 in the United States. The Borrego/Mohave did exist in international markets beyond them but the NHTSA of the United States would not be handling a recall on those. It's annoying that apparently the manufacturer, the federal regulator, and automotive press didn't notice this.
  • SilverCoupe The last Accord I test drove was in 1978, but I ended up buying a VW Scirocco instead. The Accords have put on quite a bit of weight since, then, but then again, so have I!