NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Tesla Autopilot Crashes

NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Tesla Autopilot Crashes

NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Tesla Autopilot Crashes 1080 1080 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on August 16 that it opened a formal safety investigation into Tesla driver assistance system Autopilot. Since that announcement, regulators have identified a 12th crash involving Tesla Inc. vehicles using advanced driver assistance systems in incidents involving emergency vehicles.

The investigation impacts 765,000 U.S. Tesla vehicles, including Models Y, X, S, and 3, released between 2014 and 2021 that utilize the Autopilot driver assistance system. The Autopilot system handles specific driving tasks that give drivers the ability to keep their hands off the wheel for extended periods. The system can steer, accelerate and brake automatically while within their lane.

Tesla has not publicly responded with a comment regarding the probe. If the company fails to respond fully to the NHTSA it could face up to $115 million in civil penalties.

The most recent crash happened in Orlando on August 28, 2021, when a Tesla in Autopilot mode struck a Florida Highway Patrol vehicle. The Florida trooper was pulled over and stopped to assist a disabled motorist. The trooper stated he had “narrowly missed being struck as he was outside of his patrol car.”

In the previous 11 reported crashes since 2018, the NHTSA reported 17 injuries and one death. The single reported death occurred in December 2019 after a Tesla Model 3 collided with a parked fire truck in Indiana.

Analyzing Autopilot Driving Dangers

 The NHTSA has requested Tesla to provide information detailing how it detects and responds to emergency vehicles, along with flashing lights, road flares, cones, and barrels, and the impact of low light conditions. Most of the crashes happened after dark, according to the NHTSA.

The goal of the investigation is to assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation, according to the NHTSA. Tesla must respond to the official inquiry by October 22 and must disclose plans for any changes to Autopilot.

As part of the investigation, the NHTSA is also conducting a comparative analysis of Tesla’s and competitors’ driver assistance systems. They have requested extensive data from 12 other automakers, including BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

The NHTSA notes that no commercially available cars can drive themselves and vehicles always require a human in control at all times. This investigation remains in the preliminary stages and we will continue to watch for developments as the results may lead to a software recall or more for Tesla.

Our team has more than 30 years of experience working one-on-one with clients to get the justice, recovery, and compensation they deserve. At Panter, Panter & Sampedro, We treat our clients like family. If you feel you have been harmed in a crash due to the negligence of another driver, we want to hear your story. Call us today for a free consultation about your case at (305) 662-6178.






Kolodny. (September 14, 2021). Tesla Autopilot to be compared with 12 other carmakers’ systems in NHTSA probe. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/14/tesla-autopilot-to-be-compared-with-12-other-systems-in-nhtsa-probe.html

Shepardson. (September 1, 2021). U.S. identifies 12th Tesla Autopilot car crash involving emergency vehicle. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/us-identifies-12th-tesla-assisted-systems-car-crash-involving-emergency-vehicle-2021-09-01/

Vincent. (August 16, 2021). US government opens probe into Tesla Autopilot crashes with emergency vehicles. Retrieved from: https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/16/22626819/tesla-autopilot-crash-emergency-vehicle-probe-nhtsa

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