Trigger Warning: Content includes details of a fatal car collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a crucial inquiry into a fatal incident involving a Tesla Model Y. The collision occurred on July 19, when a Tesla collided with a tractor-trailer truck in Virginia, resulting in the death of the Tesla’s 57-year-old driver. It is suspected that the driver had been relying on Tesla’s advanced driver assistance programmes at the time.
The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office provided additional details, revealing that the collision transpired as the tractor-trailer attempted to turn onto a highway from a truck stop, leading the Tesla to slide underneath the trailer. The Tesla driver was pronounced dead at the scene, and the truck driver was issued a summons for reckless driving.
While authorities initially attributed the incident to the truck driver, the NHTSA is investigating Tesla’s assistance programme due to its supposed capability to account for errors caused by other road users. This investigation is part of a broader series of inquiries, with over thirty investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles and their advanced assistance systems, which are suspected to have contributed to 23 deaths since 2016.
In 2021, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called on the NHTSA to establish stricter regulations for autonomous driving, citing concerns about limited oversight and reporting requirements for Tesla’s technology.
Tesla’s Autopilot technology, designed to handle steering, acceleration, and braking within a lane, along with lane changes on highways, requires human supervision. However, the company has not responded to inquiries about the recent incident or the ongoing investigation by Reuters. The NHTSA’s examination raises critical questions about the evolving landscape of autonomous driving and the delicate balance between technological innovation and safety.