U.S. safety regulators said they have now opened 30 investigations into Tesla crashes including 10 fatal crashes since 2016 in which the Autopilot feature was suspected to have been in use. Reuters was able to get a list with details about the incidents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These are incidents that are being investigated by the agency’s special crash investigations programs.
Details of the Investigation
While NHTSA has previously confirmed individual investigations into specific Tesla crashes, it has not released a full list of all Tesla crashes where Autopilot involvement has been suspected. NHTSA has found that the Autopilot, which is a semi-autonomous driver-assist system, doesn’t make the vehicle fully autonomous.
Reuters first sought a full list from NHTSA more than a year under the public records request. This list only includes the state and month the crashes occurred. Previously NHTSA said it had opened 28 special crash investigations into Tesla crashes with 24 pending. The spreadsheet, according to Reuters, shows a February 2019 crash where Autopilot use was undetermined.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said Autopilot was operating in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal crashes in the United States since 2016. NTSB has also criticized Tesla’s lack of system safeguards for Autopilot, which allows drivers to keep their hands off the wheel for extended periods of time. The issue has got renewed attention after an April 17 fatal crash in Texas that killed two men. In that case, no one was behind the wheel of the Tesla.
The Problem with Autopilot
Our auto defect lawyers will be closely watching this federal investigation. We have voiced our concerns repeatedly about the lack of safeguards in Tesla’s Autopilot. While the automaker instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times, the name of the feature (“Autopilot”) sends a different message to drivers.
As a result, we’ve seen numerous cases caught on video in Southern California freeways where Tesla drivers doze off after putting their Tesla vehicles in Autopilot mode. We’ve seen a number of videos on social media, including recently on TikTok, where people let the car drive itself and sit in the passenger seat.
This type of misleading marketing is dangerous and irresponsible. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Tesla crash or the result of a defectively designed or manufactured automobile, an experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to advise you regarding your legal rights and options.