US NTSB will investigate deadly Tesla conflict in Florida

Texas News Today

The Tesla car logo is seen during the presentation of the new charging system at the EUREF campus on September 10, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. REUTERS / Michele Tantusi

September 17, 2021

David Shepherdson and Hyunju Jin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced on Friday that it would send a team to investigate a Tesla car crash that killed two people in Coral Gables, Florida.

Coral Gables police said it was unclear whether the Tesla Model 3, which was involved in a collision in a residential area on Monday night, was using an electric vehicle company’s driver assistance system called Autopilot. Both of those killed had severe burns and are yet to be clearly identified.

The NTSB, which makes safety recommendations but does not regulate automakers, said the investigation will focus on vehicle operation and post-collision fires that consume it after hitting a tree. Officials said three NTSB investigators would arrive in the area on Monday.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NTSB has previously investigated three deadly Tesla conflicts involving Autopilot. Autopilot handles many driving functions such as steering, braking and acceleration, allowing the driver to take his hand off the steering wheel while actively driving the vehicle while using the Tesla system. It said that it needs to be monitored in a targeted manner.

Tesla vehicles are equipped with large battery packs that can add to prolonged fires after a collision.

The NTSB is also investigating the April Tesla crash in Texas, which killed two people. Local police said they believe the accident happened with no one in the driver’s seat.

Another federal agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), says it is collecting information about the Coral Gables accident, but has not decided whether to send an accident investigation team. ..

In August, NHTSA launched a formal safety investigation into 765,000 Tesla vehicles and Autopilot after 11 collisions that involved first responders such as police and fire trucks.

Since 2016, when the use of advanced driver assistance systems was suspected, authorities have launched 33 individual investigations into Tesla clashes, including the deaths of 11 people. NHTSA has denied the use of autopilot in three non-fatal accidents.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Hyunju Jin in San Francisco, edited by Will Dunham and Leslie Adler)

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