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Road Safety Watchdog Launches Probe Into Tesla Crash

Tesla factory

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Authority has launched an investigation into a crash that involved a Tesla Model S and a fire truck. The driver of the Tesla said the car was in Autopilot mode when it rear-ended a fire truck.

This is the second investigation into the crash, after on Tuesday—one day after the crash—the national Transportation Safety Board said it would send two investigators to the site to probe both the car and the driver.

The crash occurred on Monday in Culvert City, California, and was reported first by the local fire department. At the time, a Tesla spokesperson told Electrek that the Autopilot mode required the full attention of the driver. The company has repeatedly reminded drivers of this fact, as several drivers have blamed the Autopilot for accidents over the last couple of years.

Tesla’s Autopilot system was in the spotlight after a fatal crash involving a Model S. Last year, the chairman of the NTSB said the car’s operational limitations had played a major role in the fatal outcome of the crash, during which the car had been in Autopilot mode. Yet the other authority, NHTSA, found no defects in the Model S that was involved in the accident.

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In any case, these two probes are not good news for the car-making industry, which is busy pushing ahead with a number of driverless car projects. These vehicles would carry a heavy load of regulatory permits, so any suspicion regarding safety could make the load even heavier, delaying the launch of fully autonomous cars.

The NHTSA probe could, in the worst-case scenario, result in vehicle recall if cars are found to be unsafe, or a fine for the company if defects are found and it fails to remedy them within a certain period. However, this is not yet a formal investigation, Reuters notes, so for the time being, a recall is off the table. Nevertheless, Tesla’s stock shed 2 percent on Wednesday, after the announcement of the probe.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com



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