Tesla Autopilot Crash Report Says Driver Was Speeding | Edmunds

Tesla Autopilot Crash Report Says Driver Was Speeding

WASHINGTON — The driver in the fatal crash of a 2015 Tesla Model S electric sedan on Autopilot was speeding, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report, which was released on Tuesday, said the vehicle speed was 74 mph just prior to impact and the posted speed limit was 65 mph.

"The car's system performance data also revealed the driver was using the advanced driver assistance features Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping assistance," the report said. "The car was also equipped with automatic emergency braking that is designed to automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of or assist in avoiding frontal collisions."

The crash occurred on May 7, 2016 in Williston, Florida. Joshua Brown was killed when his Model S drove under a tractor-trailer.

"The preliminary report does not contain any analysis of data and does not state probable cause for the crash," the report noted.

A team of five NTSB investigators conducted the on-scene phase of the probe, using three-dimensional laser-scanning technology.

A final report on the crash is expected in about a year.

In the meantime, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Tesla to hand over information about the design, operation and testing of its Autopilot technology.

In a nine-page letter to Tesla dated July 8, NHTSA said it wants details of all design changes and updates to Autopilot and whether Tesla plans any future updates.

Federal safety regulators also want to know how many times the Autopilot system told drivers to put their hands on the wheel and how the system was tested. A complete response is expected from Tesla by the end of August.

In an earlier statement, Tesla said it appeared the Autopilot feature in the Model S was unable to notice "the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied."

It added: "The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S."

The accident has increased scrutiny of automated-driving technology.

"This tragic accident is a sobering reminder that while automated vehicle technology has come a long way, it still has a long way to go," said Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor Ron Montoya.

Edmunds says: Consumers get a little more insight into what happened in the first fatality connected with the self-driving technology called Autopilot in the Tesla Model S.

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