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Fatal Tesla Crashes Investigated

The announcement follows a spate of incidents involving autonomous vehicles

Graham Hope

July 8, 2022

2 Min Read
REXJH3 December 4, 2017 Sunnyvale/CA/USA - New Tesla charging station about to open in downtown Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley, San Francisco bay

Two more fatal crashes involving Teslas are being investigated by federal regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Reuters it was looking into an accident in California.

And The Verge has reported that a crash in Florida at the start of July is also being probed.

Although the NHTSA has not yet identified the specific crash it is examining in California, it is believed to be an incident that occurred in Kearney Mesa, central San Diego, on June 7.

The San Diego Union reported that a Tesla ran a red light, hit a dip in the road and went airborne, before striking a female pedestrian. She was taken to hospital and subsequently died.

The Florida crash saw a Tesla run into the back of a stationary tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop south of Gainesville on Interstate 75. The female driver and male passenger of the Tesla were both killed in the incident.

In both cases, the NHTSA is likely to be keen to establish if, or how, Tesla’s advanced driver assistance tech Autopilot was being used. Autopilot is rated as level 2 automation by the Society of Automotive Engineers, which means it requires constant human supervision.

In recent months, Tesla has come under increased scrutiny from the NHTSA.

The agency released data in June that revealed that of 392 crashes between July 20, 2021 and May 21, 2022 involving cars with driver assistance tech, no fewer than 273 featured Teslas – although NHTSA head Steven Cliff said not to draw conclusions at the findings.

Separately, the NHTSA is also investigating a series of collisions involving Teslas running Autopilot and first-responder vehicles stopped for emergencies on or beside the road.

The probe has been escalated to what is known as an Engineering Analysis”, which is generally the last stage of the formal process before the agency decides whether a recall is necessary or that no action is required.

It has also written to Tesla seeking information after receiving more than 750 reports of phantom braking from owners, where a car has suddenly slowed or stopped for no obvious reason.

And the agency is already looking into a number of other fatal crashes involving Teslas running Autopilot.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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