Agency Determines Driver Was Operating Tesla That Crashed in Spring

The National Transportation Safety Board has updated its investigation into a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S in April, having determined that the driver may have been controlling the vehicle at the time of the crash.

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The vehicle safety organization found that both the driver and passenger seats were occupied at the time of the crash. Reports following the April 17 accident in Spring, Texas, suggested that the Tesla was operating on Autopilot.

“Investigative activities since the May 10, 2021 preliminary report was issued include a forensic examination to evaluate the deformation of the steering wheel. In addition, the NTSB Recorders Laboratory repaired the car’s event data recorder (EDR) and extracted critical precrash data from the unit,” said the government agency in a statement.

Related: Tesla’s Autopilot Can Be Tricked Into Working Without A Driver

Per the NTSB, data taken from the vehicle’s event data recorder showed the driver “was applying the accelerator in the time leading up to the crash.” The car hit a high speed of 67 miles per hour in the five seconds leading up to the collision.

In April, the local constable, Mark Herman, told a Houston television station that officials “feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle.” The NTSB findings contradict that. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a probe into Tesla’s Autopilot capability in August, pointing out that since January 2018, it found 11 crashes in which Tesla vehicles “encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes.”

In those, it said, there were 17 injuries and one death.

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