A US government agency said on Tuesday that US auto safety regulators are opening a special investigation into a crash in California involving a 2018 Tesla Model 3 suspected of relying on advanced driver assistance systems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating a July 5 crash in South Lake Tahoe that killed a 17-year-old 2013 Subaru Impreza driver after a head-on collision with a Tesla Model 3 and fatally injured him for three months, the patrol said. California Interstates said a 1-year-old passenger in a Tesla died several days later.
Since 2016, the US auto safety regulator has opened more than 36 private crash investigations of Tesla into cases where systems like Autopilot were suspected to have been used, with 22 fatalities reported as of Tuesday.
Autopilot is a feature intended to automatically steer, accelerate and brake cars within their lane, while an enhanced autopilot can assist in changing lanes on highways. Tesla, which did not respond to requests for comment, says the system requires active human supervision.
A police report said that the Subaru was traveling at 55 mph (88.51 kph) while the Tesla was at 45 mph when it collided. The Tesla driver was seriously injured and two other Tesla passengers sustained moderate injuries.
A spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol said, “There are no charges pending at this time. Car seat and vehicle inspections are currently being conducted.”
This is the first new private crash investigation involving Tesla and the suspected use of driver-assistance systems since two systems were opened in March, including one in the fatal February crash in California involving a 2014 Tesla (TSLA.O) Model S and a fire truck in a vehicle. Contra Costa County, California.
A local California fire department said one of its fire engines was struck by a Tesla car and that the Tesla driver died at the scene.
The other investigation involves a March 2022 Tesla Model Y that struck and seriously injured a 17-year-old student when he got off a school bus in North Carolina.
NHTSA typically opens more than 100 “private” crash investigations a year into emerging technologies and other potential auto safety issues that, for example, previously helped develop safety rules on airbags.
These are separate from the defect investigations opened by the agency to determine if a safety recall is warranted.
In June, NHTSA upgraded to an engineering analysis of its own defect analysis of 830,000 Tesla cars with the Autopilot driver assistance system and crashes with parked emergency vehicles, including fire trucks.
NHTSA said earlier this month that it is seeking updated responses and current data from Tesla in the Autopilot investigation by Wednesday.
David Shepardson News. Editing by Doina Chiacou, Chizu Nomiyama and Deepa Babbington
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”