Investigation: Tesla Accelerated Before Crashing into Fire Truck in Utah


June 10, 2018

SOUTH JORDAN, UT. – May 25, 2018 (mercurynews.com) According to an online report from mercurynews.com, the Tesla involved in a crash with a fire truck in Utah reportedly accelerated in Autopilot mode seconds before the collision.

The collision occurred May 11 in South Jordan, Utah, and involved 29-year-old Heather Lommatzsch. Lommatzsch was driving in Autopilot mode in her Tesla Model S on South Bangerter Highway in South Jordan when she slammed into the back of a fire truck stopped at a red light. Lommatzsch admitted she was using her cell phone at the time of the crash, and a preliminary investigation from Tesla shows her hands had been off of the steering wheel for 80 seconds prior to the crash.   

New information discovered during the investigation indicates the Tesla vehicle accelerated in the seconds leading up to the crash. Lommatzsch had the vehicle’s speed set at 60 mph, and data obtained from the vehicle shows she took her hands off of the wheel more than 12 times during the driving cycle. She received several visual alerts that prompted her to return her hands to the wheel for a few seconds before removing them again (though Lommatzsch says she received no alert prior to the collision).

Before the crash, the Tesla was apparently following behind another vehicle and had slowed its speed to 55 mph. The car in front of it changed lanes, so the Tesla began to accelerate to return to its set 60 mph. The vehicle then did not perceive a fire truck stopped in front of it and crashed into the back of the truck at full speed. A witness says she did not see brake lights illuminated on Lommatzsch’s Tesla at any point before the crash. 

In the wake of this crash and others in 2018, Tesla emphasizes that its Autopilot feature is semiautonomous, meaning it requires constant attention by the human driver and should never be relied upon by drivers as fully autonomous. 

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