NHTSA Investigating 23 Crashes Involving Tesla Vehicles

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: Tesla

For the third time this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sending a team to investigate a crash involving a Tesla Inc (Nasdaq:  TSLA) vehicle, according to reports.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the federal auto safety agency is deploying special crash investigation teams to probe two Tesla crashes in Michigan that occurred over the past week and a “recent” one in the Houston area. 

Besides the crashes in Michigan and Texas, the NHTSA is currently investigating 20 other crashes involving Tesla cars, Reuters reported. No additional details were disclosed by the NHTSA regarding the other incidents it is probing. 

The most recent crash occurred early Wednesday morning on an interstate just outside of Lansing when a Tesla using the Autopilot partially automated driving system smashed into a Michigan state police cruiser. Neither the officer or 22-year-old Tesla driver was injured, but citations for failure to move over and driving with a suspended license were issued.

Earlier this week, investigators were sent to Detroit after a Tesla sedan became wedged beneath a tractor-trailer and left two people injured on March 11.

Detroit police do not believe that the Autopilot system was in use in this crash. 

NHTSA’s special crash investigation team typically reviews more than 100 crashes each year and focuses on emerging technologies, such as adaptive controls, alternative fueled vehicle performance and child restraint systems.

The agency said in July 2020 that its team determined “some form of advanced driver assistance system was engaged at the time of the incident” in 19 separate crashes, Reuters reported.

Autopilot has been in use in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal crashes in the US since 2016.

No action has been taken against the electric carmaker as a result of the federal probes, but the NHTSA said it “will monitor the new technology closely and will not hesitate” to take steps “to protect the public against risks to safety,” Reuters reported Thursday. 

Tesla has repeated that it advises drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel while using Autopilot, to pay attention and to be prepared to intervene if needed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has criticized Tesla for a lack of system safeguards and is urging the US Department of Transportation to establish regulations to control driver assist systems and the testing of autonomous vehicles.

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