Federal regulators have opened a new investigation into a second Tesla crash this month after a Model Y that was reportedly operating Autopilot struck a stationary police car early morning on March 17. According to a CNBC news report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was already investigating an unrelated Tesla collision in Detroit less than a week ago.
In the most recent crash, officials said, a Tesla driver who said he had the Autopilot engaged at the time, struck an officer’s blue Dodge Charger sedan as troopers were investigating another crash. The police car was parked and partially sitting in the right lane of a highway with its emergency lights on. Officials said no injuries were sustained by the officers or the 22-year-old Tesla driver. He was issued citations for failure to move over and driving with a suspended license.
Investigations Over Autopilot Issues
Tesla’s Autopilot has been under scrutiny not just after a number of crashes where the system failed to respond, but where drivers misused the system and slept, were distracted or inebriated at the wheel. Tesla’s systems include a standard Autopilot package. Consumers can buy a more advanced option for $10,000 or a beta version to try the newest features being added to the system before bugs are worked out.
Tesla says on its website that drivers should be alert at all times, even when Autopilot is engaged, and be ready to take over if needed. Tesla vehicles with Autopilot have collided with stationary objects and large vehicles including fire trucks and tractor-trailers. On March 1, 2019, Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, died when his Model 3 on Autopilot struck the side of a tractor-trailer in Florida. The roof of his car was sheared off as it passed underneath the large truck.
Why Better Regulation is Needed
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also recently called for clear and stringent rules for automated driving systems at a federal level. The board specifically gave the example of Tesla’s approach to automated driving systems as a reason why stronger safety requirements and clear regulations are imperative.
Our auto defect lawyers have also been shining the light on the inadequacies of the Autopilot system. While we understand that driverless cars are an inevitable development, it is important to make sure these vehicles are safe for public roadways. Glitches cannot and should not be ironed out using real people as test subjects. We hope these investigations shed more light on how and why these crashes occurred.