US government investigating whether autonomous Tesla crash killed three people
The US government’s Road Safety Agency has sent a team to investigate the possibility that a Tesla involved in the California crash that killed three people was operating on a partially automated driving system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed Wednesday that it had dispatched a special accident investigation team to investigate the May 12 crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.
The investigation is part of a larger investigation by the agency into accidents involving advanced driver assistance systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot. Since 2016, the agency has dispatched teams to 34 accidents in which systems were either in use or suspected of being operational. According to an NHTSA document released Wednesday, 28 of the 34 Teslas were involved.
Fifteen people died, and at least 15 others were injured in accidents being investigated by the NHTSA. The documents said 14 of the deaths were in accidents involving Teslas.
In addition to specific accidents, the NHTSA is under investigation into Teslas on Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles parked along roadways, as well as Autopilot braking for no apparent reason.
Last June NHTSA or Dear Automakers to report any accidents on public roads with fully autonomous vehicles or partially automated driver assistance systems. Partially automated systems can center a vehicle in its lane and keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of it. NHTSA says the data can show whether there are general patterns in system-linked crashes.
A message was left on Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas. NHTSA would not comment after the document’s release.
Tesla warns drivers using Autopilot as well as its “full self-driving” system that the cars cannot drive themselves and that drivers must be prepared to intervene at all times.
NHTSA is also investigating two accidents involving Volvos, a Navya Shuttle accident, two Cadillacs, one at Lexus and one at Hyundai. One of the Volvo accidents was an Uber autonomous test vehicle that crushed and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March 2018.
In the Newport Beach accident, police were called at around 12:45 a.m. and found that a 2022 Tesla Model S sedan had crashed into a curb and then collided with construction equipment on the south side of the road.
According to police, officers found two men and a woman dead in the car, and three construction workers with minor injuries.
The Newport Beach Police Department said it had brought in its major accident investigation team.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press