NHTSA is looking into a fatal head-on collision in California that it believes Tesla's Autopilot may have been involved in
On Wednesday, July 5, a Tesla Model 3 and a Subaru Impreza were involved in a head-on collision in South Lake Tahoe, California. The incident wound up killing the driver of the Impreza, as well as a three-month-old. The crash is now being investigated for the possible involvement of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system, Autopilot.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today that it was opening a “special crash investigation” into the fatal accident that involved a model year 2018 Tesla Model 3. The vehicle is suspected of having relied on Autopilot around the time of the crash.
Just its latest special crash investigation aimed at Tesla, NHTSA has launched more than three dozen of the probes, involving 20 deaths, since 2016, reports Reuters. In all of them, the automaker’s advanced driver assistance systems were suspected of being involved.
This year, the administration announced in March that it would be looking into two fatal crashes. One involved a 2014 Tesla Model S that crashed into a fire truck in Contra Costa County, California. In the other, a 17-year-old student getting off a school bus was killed by a Tesla Model Y.
In the latest case, a spokesperson for NHTSA said that “there are no charges pending at this time,” but that vehicle and car seat inspections were being conducted.
NHTSA opens more than 100 special crash investigations annually, usually looking into new technologies, like ADAS systems. These kinds of probes have previously led to new safety rules that have improved vehicle components like airbags. They are different from defect investigations that lead to recalls.
Tesla’s Autopilot is also the subject of a defect probe that was upgraded to an engineering analysis by NHTSA last year. The organization is looking into instances in which its vehicles have crashed into parked emergency vehicles.