HomeNewsTechnologyNTSB: Driver was behind wheel at time of Texas Tesla crash

NTSB: Driver was behind wheel at time of Texas Tesla crash


This Feb. 9, 2019, file picture exhibits an indication bearing the corporate emblem outdoors a Tesla retailer in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver. A driver was behind the wheel when a Tesla electrical automobile crashed and burned final April in Houston, killing two males, neither of whom was discovered within the driver’s seat. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board introduced the findings in an investigative report launched Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 on the April 17 crash on a residential highway in Spring, Texas. Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File

A driver was behind the wheel when a Tesla electrical automobile crashed and burned final April close to Houston, killing two males, neither of whom was discovered within the driver’s seat.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board introduced the findings in an investigative report replace launched Thursday on the April 17 on a residential highway in Spring, Texas.

Although first responders discovered one man within the again seat and the opposite within the entrance passenger seat, the NTSB mentioned each the motive force and a passenger have been within the entrance seats with belts buckled on the time of the crash.

The company mentioned the automobile was touring as much as 67 mph within the 5 seconds main as much as the crash, and the motive force was accelerating. Data from the automobile’s fire-damaged occasion information recorder revealed that at occasions, the accelerator pedal was pressed as excessive as 98.8%, the NTSB report mentioned.

The investigation is continuous, and the company made no willpower as as to if Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driver-assist system was working on the time of the crash. The NTSB mentioned it’s nonetheless wanting into Autopilot, whether or not the lads might have had hassle getting out of the automobile, driver toxicology checks and different objects. The company will make these determinations in a remaining report.

The replace report left unclear how or why the motive force unbuckled the seat belt and altered seating positions, though it mentioned the crash broken the Tesla Model S’s high-voltage lithium-ion battery case, the place the hearth began.

The deadly journey started on the proprietor’s dwelling close to the top of a cul-de-sac, and residential safety video confirmed the proprietor stepping into the motive force’s seat and the passenger coming into the entrance passenger seat, the report mentioned. The automobile traveled about 550 toes earlier than leaving the highway on a curve, going over a curb, hitting a drainage culvert, a raised manhole and a tree.

The crash occurred round 9:07 p.m. on Hammock Dunes Place, a two-lane residential highway. Both the 59-year-old proprietor and the 69-year-old passenger have been killed.

In a preliminary report from May, the NTSB mentioned it examined a unique Tesla car on the identical highway, and the Autopilot driver-assist system couldn’t be totally used. Investigators couldn’t get the system’s automated steering system to work, however have been in a position to make use of Traffic Aware Cruise Control.

Autopilot wants each the and the automated steering to perform. Traffic Aware Cruise Control can maintain the automobile a secure distance from automobiles in entrance of it, whereas autosteer retains it in its personal lane. The report mentioned the highway additionally didn’t have lane traces. That might have have been why the automated steering would not work.

The company says it intends to problem security suggestions to forestall comparable crashes.

Local authorities mentioned one man was discovered within the entrance passenger seat, whereas one other was within the again.

Harris County Precinct Four Constable Mark Herman mentioned on the time the automobile was touring at a excessive pace. He wouldn’t say if there was proof anybody tampered with Tesla’s system to watch the motive force, which detects power from arms on the steering wheel. The system will problem warnings and ultimately shut the automobile down if it would not detect arms. But critics say Tesla’s system is simple to idiot and might take so long as a minute to close down.

Consumer Reports mentioned in April that it was capable of simply trick a Tesla into driving in Autopilot mode with nobody on the wheel.

The NTSB, which has no regulatory authority and might solely make suggestions, mentioned it is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the probe. NHTSA has the ability to make car security rules. The federal probe is working concurrently a parallel investigation by native authorities, the NTSB mentioned.

The Texas crash raised questions of whether or not Autopilot was working on the time, and whether or not Tesla does sufficient to ensure drivers are engaged. The firm says in proprietor’s manuals and on its web site that Autopilot is a driver-assist system and drivers have to be able to take motion at any time.

Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice chairman of auto engineering, mentioned on the corporate’s April 26 earnings convention name that an inspection of the badly burned automobile discovered that the steering wheel was deformed, “so it was leading to a likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.” He mentioned all seat belts have been discovered unbuckled.

On Twitter in April, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote that information logs “recovered so far” within the crashed present Autopilot wasn’t turned on, and “Full Self-Driving” was not bought for the car within the Texas crash. He did not reply reporters’ questions posed on Twitter.

NHTSA has stepped up its investigations into Tesla Autopilot. In August, it opened a proper investigation into the system after a sequence of collisions with parked emergency automobiles.

The investigation covers 765,000 automobiles, nearly every little thing that Tesla has offered within the U.S. for the reason that begin of the 2014 mannequin yr. Of the crashes recognized as a part of the probe, 17 folks have been injured and one was killed.

NHTSA says it has recognized 12 crashes since 2018 through which Teslas on Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control have hit automobiles at scenes the place first responders have used flashing lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board or cones warning of hazards.


NTSB: Tesla owner got into driver’s seat before deadly crash


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