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Tesla Crash Prompts More Safety Investigations

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has initiated an investigation into a Tesla crash in Detroit earlier this month that involved a tractor-trailer.

The agency was made “aware of the violent crash that occurred on March 11 in Detroit involving a Tesla and a tractor trailer. We have launched a Special Crash Investigation (SCI) team to investigate the crash,” Reuters quoted the NHTSA as saying.

CNBC reported that, according to the Detroit police department, the crash occurred when the driver of a Tesla hit a semi-truck and got stuck under the trailer. A passenger in the Tesla is in critical condition.

The news reports come a day after the National Transport Safety Board called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to tighten regulation on self-driving technology, noting Tesla’s Autopilot as a case in point.

“Tesla recently released a beta version of its Level 2 Autopilot system, described as having full self-driving capability. By releasing the system, Tesla is testing on public roads a highly automated AV technology but with limited oversight or reporting requirements,” NTSB board chairman Robert L. Sumwalt wrote in a letter to the NTSB. “NHTSA’s hands-off approach to oversight of AV testing poses a potential risk to motorists and other road users.”

The coincidence is unfortunate for Tesla, but it bears noting that this is not the first investigation into a Tesla crash where the Autopilot may be the suspect. Previous investigations by the NHTSA, Reuters notes, however, did not lead to any penalties for the carmaker.

Tesla has repeatedly warned drivers, following crashes where the driver blamed the Autopilot, that the system does not turn the vehicle into a self-driving car. Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk has advertised the full self-driving mode of Teslas, which, taken literally, does seem to suggest it can operate as a fully autonomous vehicle.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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