Authorities Claim No One Was in the Driver's Seat in Tesla Crash

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
authorities claim no one was in the drivers seat in tesla crash

A crash involving a Tesla Model S in Texas killed two passengers.

We say “passengers” instead of “occupants” because it appears there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

At least, that’s what authorities claim.

“I can tell you our investigators are certain no one was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash,” Constable Mark Herman, who is in charge of the Harris County police precinct that handled the crash, told CNN today.

The crash happened in Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston. The bodies were found in the front passenger seat and the rear seat of the car. The victims were 69 and 59 years old and their names have not been released as of this writing.

The car, a 2019 Model S, apparently wrecked by failing to negotiate a curve before going off-road and hitting trees. Herman told CNN that evidence suggested the car was traveling at a “high rate of speed”.

A 2019 Model S would likely have Tesla’s Autopilot hands-free assistance system and could’ve had the company’s “Full-Self Driving” driver-assist system. Despite the names, neither system actually offers full-self driving, aka level 5 autonomy.

It’s easy to speculate that the driver didn’t understand how these systems work and a failure of autonomous systems led to the crash, but we simply don’t know the cause of the crash right now. We don’t even know if the car had FSD.

Either way, Tesla has come under fire for selling FSD as full-self driving when it actually isn’t — it’s a level 2 system, not level 5. In this author’s view, that criticism is fair, regardless of what caused this specific crash.

Telsa boss CEO did tweet claims about Autopilot’s safety over the weekend, though it’s unclear if his tweet has any relation to the incident.

Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 17, 2021

Autopilot does require the driver’s seatbelt to be buckled before it can work.

The crash resulted in a car fire that took four hours and 32,000 gallons of water to quelch.

While the National Transportation Safety Board has not yet decided whether it will or won’t investigate, CNN reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did assign a Special Crash Investigation team to find out more about what happened.

We’ll update this post if and when further information becomes available.

[Image: Tesla]

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  • Dukeisduke Why the hell doesn't Farley just resign? Why hasn't Bill Ford fired him? I lay all this at Farley's feet.
  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the livestream (I'm a MT+ subscriber), but after 15 minutes of jawing by the presenters, I got bored and turned it off. I may watch it this weekend, when I can fast forward through that stuff, to get to the reveal.
  • Dukeisduke Electric power steering, I assume. First-gen Chevy Cruzes can suffer from similar issues, usually traceable to a flaky battery negative cable, a $10 OEM part. Weird, huh?
  • Kwik_Shift Once 15 Minute Cities start to be rolled out, you won't be far enough away from home to worry about range anxiety.
  • Bobbysirhan I'd like to look at all of the numbers. The eager sheep don't seem too upset about the $1,800 delta over home charging, suggesting that the total cost is truly obscene. Even spending Biden bucks, I don't need $1,800 of them to buy enough gasoline to cover 15,000 miles a year. Aren't expensive EVs supposed to make up for their initial expense, planet raping resource requirements, and the child slaves in the cobalt mines by saving money on energy? Stupid is as stupid does.