Tesla Reports Another Fatality Involving Automated Driving

Total Is at 17 Since June 2021
Tesla Model 3s. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

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Tesla Inc. disclosed to U.S. regulators another fatal crash involving automated driver-assist systems, bringing its total to 17 since June 2021 when the government required carmakers to begin submitting data on these accidents.

The crash involved a Tesla Model S that collided with an emergency vehicle in February in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the time of the accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked the company for more information.

The crash was one of 66 reported accidents that were included in the latest public release of data collected by NHTSA about crashes involving so-called Level 2 automated driving systems, gathered under a June 2021 order demanding carmakers and technology companies report the incidents.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

NHTSA logo

Safety advocates in Washington have called for regulators and lawmakers to set firmer rules for so-called self-driving cars and technologies that are gaining popularity. These include Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist feature.

NHTSA said in January that it had asked Tesla about a Dec. 31 tweet from its CEO, Elon Musk, in which he indicated the company’s so-called “full self-driving” program might be upgraded as soon as April with a way to disable an alert when drivers remove their hands from the steering wheel.

Tesla’s website says Autopilot and its full-self driving feature are “intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment.”

NHTSA’s request for more information from Tesla is part of an ongoing investigation dating to August 2021 that is looking into how Autopilot handles crash scenes following collisions with first responder and other vehicles.

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