Tesla driver issued citation after crash involving 'autopilot' technology

Daniel Fowler
May 17, 2018

The driver re-enabled Autopilot 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, let go of the wheel 2 seconds later and then didn't touch the wheel again before hitting the truck at 60 miles per hour (97 kph).

The driver of the firetruck was checked for whiplash injuries but did not go to the hospital.

A Utah driver turned on the semi-autonomous Autopilot functions of her Tesla vehicle and then didn't touch the steering wheel again for 80 seconds before slamming into a firetruck stopped at a red light last week, a summary of data from the auto released Wednesday showed.

The 28-year-old driver, who was not identified, suffered a broken foot.

"Consistent with NHTSA's oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, the agency has launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordon [sic], Utah, crash". She had previously told police she had engaged the system and was looking at her phone to compare route maps when the accident occurred.

During this "drive cycle", the Model S registered "more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel".

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. "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the vehicle impervious to all accidents".

Police in South Jordan said based on these findings, the woman was given ticket. The vehicle plowed into a fire department vehicle in Utah while the Autopilot, its semi-autonomous driving system, was turned on.

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Tesla has released several statements on the accident, including a March 30 blog post that expressed sorrow for the family but defended its technology and pointed responsibility for the crash on the driver.

It is the third Tesla crash since January that the NHTSA is investigating that may have been linked to autopilot.

AEB is "designed to automatically engage the brakes to reduce the impact of an unavoidable frontal collision with another vehicle" and therefore, drivers should never rely on it to always save them from a crash.

"About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again", the police report says.

The two federal agencies both are looking into a Tesla Model S crash in Florida that killed two teenagers.

Also in March, an Arizona pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber auto with a backup driver behind the wheel.

The NTSB is investigating the other three Tesla incidents being looked at by NHTSA, as well as an August 2017 Tesla battery fire in California, in which an owner ran the vehicle into his garage.

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