Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

A Tesla Crash In Utah Is Under Investigation By US Safety Regulators

A Tesla Crash In Utah Is Under Investigation By US Safety Regulators

Data recovered from a Tesla that was driven at 60 miles per hour into a Unified Fire Authority vehicle stopped at an intersection last Friday confirms the driver had engaged the vehicle's autopilot system, police said Wednesday.

NHTSA investigators are also reviewing a Tesla that crashed in January near Los Angeles and fatal crash earlier this month in Florida. The truck had been stopped at a red light.

During this "drive cycle", the Model S registered "more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel".

The Tesla report also noted that instructions provided to drivers about their vehicle's automation features expressly instruct that they maintain attention, and hands on the wheel, at all times.

The driver had been using the "Autosteer" and "Traffic Aware Cruise Control" functions of Autopilot, Tesla reported to police.

"It's super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40,000 people who died in United States auto accidents alone in past year get nearly no coverage", Musk said in a tweet.

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A Tesla spokesperson said the company warns drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert. She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time.

San Francisco: Tesla chief Elon Musk defended self-driving auto technology on Tuesday after reports about the latest crash involving one of the electric carmaker's vehicles. The driver finally touched the brake pedal "a second prior to the crash".

The report also confirmed that the NHTSA sent an investigating team to look into the crash, but it will be conducted by the Special Crash Investigations Team, which gathers data on "special crashes" to help the automotive safety community. Autopilot self-driving capabilities of the Tesla were not expected to be involved, the NTSB said.

This is the latest investigation by federal regulators into recent accidents involving Tesla vehicles. The agencies are looking into the fire that resulted from the electric car's batteries igniting. The vehicle was in Autopilot mode when it slammed into a concrete barrier that divided a busy Silicon Valley highway. The driver's family has retain legal counsel and is contemplating a lawsuit based on previous complaints made by the driver about the Autopilot system's inability to navigate that specific piece of highway.

Follow USA TODAY tech writer Marco della Cava on Twitter.

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