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A Tesla sedan with a semi-autonomous Autopilot feature rear-ended a fire department truck in South Jordan, Utah at 60 mph without braking before impact. According to an Associated Press news report, police are still looking into whether the Autopilot feature was engaged at the time. The cause of the crash involving the Tesla Model S and a fire department mechanic truck stopped at a red light is under investigation. This crash comes at a time when federal safety agencies are probing the performance of Tesla’s semi-autonomous system.
An investigation into Tesla and Autopilot
The Tesla’s airbags were apparently activated during the crash. Police do not believe the Tesla’s driver was under the influence. The Tesla’s driver suffered a broken right ankle and the driver of the Unified Fire Authority mechanic truck did not require treatment. There was light rain falling and the roads were wet when the crash occurred. Witnesses told police the Tesla Model S did not brake before the impact. Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras, radar and computers to maintain speed, change lanes and automatically stop vehicles.
Tesla has warned drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road so they can take control at a moment’s notice. Police in Utah have been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been looking into at least two other crashes involving Tesla vehicles equipped with the Autopilot feature. In March a Tesla Model X SUV crashed on a California highway killing the driver. Months before that, a Tesla on Autopilot struck a fire truck in Culver City.
Holding Automakers Accountable
Tesla Autopilot has been under the spotlight since a fatal crash in Florida in May 2016. Since then safety advocates have questioned the very name of this semi-autonomous feature. While it’s called “Autopilot” and Tesla marketed it as a semi-autonomous feature, the automaker did not originally warn drivers that it is not a fully autonomous feature, which led to drivers being lulled into a false sense of security.
We hope the federal investigation into these incidents sheds more light on the facts and motivates Tesla to conduct more diligent tests of its Autopilot feature. If you have been injured as the result of a Tesla semi-autonomous vehicle, please make sure you preserve the vehicle, unaltered, so an expert can thoroughly examine it for defects and malfunctions. Then, contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who will help protect your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses.