WASHINGTON – A U.S. auto safety agency said Wednesday it has launched an investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla car in California this month that left three dead and could be due to its improved driver assistance system.
The 2022 Tesla Model S crashed into construction equipment at Newport Beach last week, one of 35 Tesla vehicles under investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that had advanced driver assistance systems such as autopilots suspected to be in use since 2016. .
The Tesla investigation found a total of 14 accidental deaths, including three recent deaths.
The NHTSA has confirmed a new investigation into the May 12 Tesla Model S crash that killed three people and injured three workers in a car while hitting construction equipment along the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.
Newport Beach police on Wednesday declined to say whether the Tesla car was in autopilot mode at the time of the crash, saying it was under investigation.
Tesla’s autopilot and other driver assistance systems that handle certain tasks for drivers have come under increasing scrutiny.
Tesla said on its website that Autopilot provides driver assistance by enabling vehicles to automatically steer, accelerate and brake, but “requires active driver supervision and does not make the vehicle autonomous.” The NHTSA notes that there are no autonomous vehicles for sale that do not allow drivers to pay attention.
The NHTSA sends special crash teams to conduct more than 100 detailed crash investigations annually. Https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data/special-crash-investigations-sci To perform clinical “a timely investigation that could be used by the automated security community to improve the performance of its advanced security system.”
Since 2016, Tesla has had 35 special crash investigations by NHTSA involving improved driver assistance systems, three of which have eliminated autopilot use.
Separately, NHTSA said on Wednesday that in April it launched another special crash investigation involving a minor injury in a 2016 Tesla Model X Florida collision, which could also involve the use of an advanced driver assistance system.
In August, the NHTSA said it had assessed a formal initial error in the autopilot and identified at least a dozen crashes involving Tesla models and emergency vehicles. That investigation is still pending. (Reporting by David Shepardsson; Editing by Leslie Adler, Grant McCull and Bernard Orr)