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NHTSA Probes Another "Violent" Tesla Tractor-Trailer Truck Accident

March 20, 2021

WASHINGTON – According to a news report published on OANN.COM, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the agency is investigating a serious motor vehicle accident in Detroit, Michigan, that involved a Tesla.  The violent Tesla accident happened on March 11, 2021, involving a Tesla and an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer truck.  The accident left a passenger in the Tesla in critical medical condition after the Tesla was wedged under the tractor-trailer truck.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the agency had "launched a Special Crash Investigation (SCI) team to investigate the crash."

According to the accident report, the crash happened at around 3:20 in the morning.  The Tesla allegedly drove through an intersection and collided with a tractor-trailer.  The Tesla driver and passenger were transported to a local area hospital.  The passenger has been listed in critical medical condition. 

Detroit Police are investigating the accident, and the preliminary investigation has not determined if a Tesla autopilot error caused the accident or not.  

Tesla's autopilot failures have been a factor in at least three fatal Tesla motor vehicle accidents in the United States since 2016.  The NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have both investigated other Tesla accidents involving Tesla vehicles colliding with tractor-trailers, including two fatal Tesla accidents in the state of Florida.

In 2019, a Tesla hit a tractor-trailer truck where the Tesla's roof was shaved off as it passed under the trailer portion of the 18-wheeler and then stopped about three-tenths of a mile south of the accident.  The Tesla driver in that accident was killed in the accident. 

In 2016, a driver in a Tesla Model S was tragically killed in an accident close to the town of Williston, Florida.  The driver had autopilot engaged when the Tesla crashed into a tractor-trailer, and the Tesla's roof was sheared.

According to Tesla, Tesla drivers should always pay attention to their driving while using Autopilot and keep their hands on the vehicle's steering wheel at all times when autopilot is engaged.  In January of 2021, Tesla added a new safety feature that forces Tesla drivers to apply light force to the steering wheel while the vehicle's autopilot is engaged.  

In an interview on the Joe Rogan podcast, Elon Musk stated that the Tesla driver is periodically notified to apply pressure to the vehicle's steering wheel.  If the driver does not respond within a specific amount of time, the vehicle will automatically go into safe mode, slow down, pull to the side of the road, stop, and attempt to awaken the driver.  However, some Tesla drivers state they are able to avoid putting their hands on the wheel for extended periods when using autopilot.

In February of 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) harshly reprimanded Tesla for its lack of system safeguards following a fatal 2018 autopilot accident in California.  The agency also called U.S. regulators' supervising of the driver assistance system "misguided."

NTSB does not have the power to create laws but can only offer recommendations, while the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration  (NHTSA) regulates all motorized vehicles in the United States.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has launched at least 14 Special Crash Investigation teams to investigate Tesla accidents that might be linked to Tesla's advanced autopilot driver assistance system.  However, no action has been taken against Tesla as a consequence of the investigations.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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