DETRIOT, Mich. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that the drivers, the automotive company Tesla, and insufficient regulation regarding automated driving share the blame for a deadly crash that happened in Florida in 2019. The Tesla sedan involved in the crash was in “autopilot mode” when the collision occurred. The crash, which happened on March 1, 2019, in Delray Beach, Florida, inflicted fatal injuries to the driver of the Tesla 3 sedan, according to Spectrum News NY 1. The Tesla failed to avoid a collision with a tractor-trailer truck that crossed in front of the Tesla. The Tesla under rode the tractor-trailer truck, and the roof of the Tesla 3 was sheared off at impact. The NTSB took issue with many factors involved in the fatal collision.
The driver of the Tesla 3 who died in the crash set the car to adaptive cruise control only 12.3 seconds before the crash. Additionally, the driver set the autosteer function 2.4 seconds after setting the adaptive cruise control. The NTSB determined that the driver did not touch the steering wheel in the 7.7 seconds the preceded the crash. The NTSB interpreted that information to mean the driver did not have his hands on the steering wheel. The car did not have enough time to warn the driver to return his hands to the wheel. The car and driver did not brake before the crash. The truck driver received a citation for cutting off the Tesla.
Tesla says it warns its customers that autopilot is not designed for areas on the road where traffic can cross. The car’s tracking system does not always correctly determine a vehicle has entered the Tesla’s path. The NTSB investigators objected strongly to a driver having the ability to let go of the steering wheel while the car is moving and the driver is not paying attention to the road.
Lastly, the NTSB took issue with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its reluctance to regulate autopilot driving and compel car companies to limit when the driver can engage the autopilot function.
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