NTSB links Tesla crash to Autopilot; 3rd such fatal accident

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a preliminary report on a fatal Tesla crash that happened in Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.

The incident occurred on March 1, 2019 at 6:17 am when the Tesla Model 3 was on the southbound right through lane of State Highway 441. The car collided with a semi-trailer that was crossing the highway to make a left turn and join the northbound lanes. The footage from nearby surveillance cameras and Tesla’s front camera reportedly shows the semi-trailer slow down in front of the Tesla, blocking its path. The car underrode the trailer after striking the left side and came to a halt 488 m from the crash site. The 50-year old male driver died due to the crash. The driver of the semi-trailer was uninjured.

The NTSB report also states that the Autopilot (autonomous system) on the Tesla was active at the time of the crash. The driver had engaged the system 10 seconds before the impact and in the last 8 seconds, the driver's hands were not detected on the steering wheel. There was no attempt to avoid the crash by the driver or the Autopilot system. The vehicle was travelling at 109 km/h when the accident occurred.

This is just the preliminary report and investigation on other factors like the actions of the driver of the tractor-trailer, highway conditions, survival factors amongst others will continue. NTSB further added that probable cause has not been determined. The cause which will help issue safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes.

In 2017, the NTSB revealed that over-reliance of technology lead to a crash that killed a Tesla driver on May 7, 2016. A second fatal accident occurred on March 2018, which involved a Model X in Autopilot mode in Mountain View, California.

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