NTSB Opens Investigation into Recent Tesla Crash With Firetruck
About a year and a half ago, news broke that a Tesla Model S had been involved in a fatal crash with a tractor-trailer while Autopilot was engaged. The NHTSA ultimately decided Autopilot was not to blame for the crash, but the incident did serve as an unfortunate reminder that Teslas aren’t truly autonomous. Sadly, not all owners learned that lesson, as a wreck earlier this week ended up being bad enough to catch the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to firefighters from Culver City, California, the wreck in question took place Monday morning when a Tesla Model S on Autopilot hit a parked firetruck at 65 mph. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but according to their official Twitter account, the firefighters on the scene narrowly avoided being hit. To make matters worse, Bloomberg reports that the truck was parked in an emergency lane, responding to an earlier crash.
While working a freeway accident this morning, Engine 42 was struck by a #Tesla traveling at 65 mph. The driver reports the vehicle was on autopilot. Amazingly there were no injuries! Please stay alert while driving! #abc7eyewitness #ktla #CulverCity #distracteddriving pic.twitter.com/RgEmd43tNe
— Culver City Firefighters (@CC_Firefighters) January 22, 2018
Today, Bloomberg reports that the NTSB has decided to look into the wreck. Two investigators are expected to arrive in the area on Wednesday and will focus their investigation on both the driver and the vehicle itself. Their findings will likely focus less on Autopilot itself and instead become part of a larger investigation into the greater safety issues that semi-autonomous driving systems present.
In the past, NTSB testing found that Tesla’s Autopilot system “avoided crashes for the majority of rear-end scenarios,” but while the NHTSA decided Autopilot wasn’t responsible for the fatal 2016 crash, the NTSB believed it was a contributing factor.
A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment on the investigation. Regarding the accident itself, however, the spokesperson said, “Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver.”
At the moment, there’s still no telling what the NTSB’s investigators will reveal, but even if they find Autopilot didn’t contribute to the wreck, it still serves as a great reminder to pay attention to the road no matter how advanced your cruise control is or what it’s called.