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.
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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