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NHTSA Investigates Two Tesla Accidents That Tragically Killed Two Motorcyclists


August 29, 2022

According to a new story published on ttnews.com, two Tesla "Autopilot" accidents are being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report states that the accidents involved collisions with motorcycles. Teslas that are semi-automated vehicles may not be stopping for motorcycles, and NHTSA believes that this could be a potential  hazard on the highway.

Investigation teams with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were to investigate two Tesla-motorcycle collisions that occurred last month. The crashes occurred at night, along freeways, and were fatal collisions. NHTSA presumes that Tesla's driver-assist system, otherwise known as Autopilot, was being used in both accidents. Investigators with NHTSA stated that they were gathering more information and the investigation might include collisions involving Tesla vehicles crashing into emergency vehicles parked on freeways. NHTSA is also investigating more than 750 complaints that Teslas can suddenly brake without reason.

The first motorcycle crash happened at approximately 4:45 AM on State Route 91 in Riverside, California. A Tesla Model Y SUV was heading eastbound in the high-occupancy vehicle traffic lane as a green Yamaha V-Star motorcycle was traveling in the same direction ahead of the Tesla. According to the California Highway Patrol, the two vehicles collided, and the motorcyclist was throw off of his motorcycle. The motorcyclist was tragically pronounced deceased at the scene of the crash by the fire department. Whether or not the Tesla was using Autopilot remains under investigation.

The second motorcycle crash occurred at around 1:10 AM on Interstate 15, close to the city of Draper, Utah. A Tesla Model 3 car was traveling behind a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Tesla driver did not see the motorcyclist and rear-ended the motorcycle causing the rider to be thrown from the motorcycle, the Utah Department of Public Safety stated. The motorcycle operator, identified as a 34-year-old man from Orem, Utah, tragically passed away at the accident scene. The Tesla driver explained to law enforcement authorities that the vehicle was on Autopilot at the time of the crash.

Acting Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, Michael Brooks, is urging NHTSA to recall Tesla's Autopilot since the technology cannot recognize motorcyclists, pedestrians, and emergency vehicles. Mr. Brooks stated that a lot of Tesla owners should be realizing that Autopilot does not work properly, Autopilot will not live up to their expectations, and the technology is placing a lot of innocent people in danger. Brooks slammed the NHTSA for persisting in investigating Autopilot-related crashes but failing to take any action. 

Tesla has eliminated the use of radar systems and relies exclusively on computer memory and cameras. Safety advocates believe that the lack of radar impairs vision during driving at night. 

NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff stated that NHTSA has been intensifying its efforts to comprehend the risks posed by automated vehicles to determine which regulations are necessary to protect pedestrians, drivers, other motorists, and passengers. There are no regulations that address self-driving motor vehicles or partially automated driver-assist systems, including Autopilot.

NHTSA mandated all auto manufacturers and tech companies involved with automated driving systems to report all accidents. The NHTSA has published the first batch of data that shows about 400 accidents reported during a 10-month period. Two hundred seventy-three of those crashes involved Teslas. However, Tesla's telematics gathers data faster and in real-time, and the data cannot be used to compare the safety of the different vehicles. 

Tesla's Autopilot keeps the cars in their traffic lanes and keeps a distance from other vehicles. Tesla is also using selected drivers to test its "Full Self-Driving" software. Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that their vehicles would drive themselves one day and Tesla would enable a fleet of autonomous robotaxis. 

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https://www.ttnews.com/articles/nhtsa-probes-tesla-crashes-killed-two-motorcyclists

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