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United States safety agency sends team to investigate Tesla crash

17 May 2018, 04:58 | Kevin Scott

Tesla confirms Utah driver engaged autopilot functions before slamming into firetruck

US safety agency sends team to investigate Tesla crash

She took her hands off the wheel more than a dozen times, twice for more than a minute each.

According to Tesla technicians, the recovered data from the vehicle showed that the driver repeatedly cancelled and re-engaged the Autopilot features. She had previously told police that she had engaged the system and was looking at her phone to compare route maps when the accident occurred.

Although the driver miraculously only sustained a broken foot, the potential for lethal consequences was present when considering the decimation of the Tesla's front end.

In a statement Wednesday, Tesla said that drivers are repeatedly warned to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicle at all times.

"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 Jordan, Utah, crash". The woman told police the car's autopilot technology was on at the time of the crash.

Minutes later he added, "What's actually unbelievable about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle".

During the driver's trip, she reportedly toggled Autopilot and active cruise control on and off on multiple occasions, and modified the vehicle's cruise speed at varying points.

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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. Against eyewitness reports, the car's computer did reportedly register brake pedal application, as well as her hands' return to the wheel, but the reaction was too little, too late. "She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened".

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it's investigating the crash.

Furthermore, it's now the fourth investigation into a crash involving a Tesla vehicle in just 2 months, which might be a record.

The auto was programmed by the driver to travel at 60 miles per hour.

According to the release, 82 seconds prior to the crash, she again activated Autopilot and adaptive cruise control, and removed her hands from the wheel within two seconds of activation.

"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", the report said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a separate government agency that looks into accidents and makes safety recommendations, has said it is not investigating the Utah crash.



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