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U.S. Watchdog Rebukes Tesla For Disclosing Details Of Fatal Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is unhappy that Tesla has disclosed details of a deadly crash involving a Tesla Model X that the safety regulator has started to investigate.

Last week, the NTSB said that two investigators were conducting field investigation into a March 23 fatal crash in California that killed the driver. As of March 27, the regulator said that it was yet unclear if the automated control system was active at the time of the crash.

The start of the investigation, as well as a rating agency downgrade, sent Tesla’s shares plunging on the stock market last week.

In a blog post on Friday, Tesla revealed some details about the fatal crash, saying that “Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum.”

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken,” Tesla said.

While Tesla said that Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents—such a standard would be impossible, although it does make them much less likely to occur—the federal safety board was displeased with this public disclosure of details, and criticized Tesla for revealing investigative information in an ongoing probe.

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“At this time the NTSB needs the assistance of Tesla to decode the data the vehicle recorded. In each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data. However, the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla,” NTSB spokesman Chris O’Neil told The Washington Post on Sunday.

Tesla had a very disappointing month in March, with shares down 22 percent for their worst monthly performance in more than seven years—since December 2010. Elon Musk’s April Fools’ tweets joked about Tesla going bankrupt.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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