The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday cited driver errors and Tesla’s Autopilot design as the probable cause of a January 2018 crash of a Model S into a parked fire truck on a highway in California.
The safety board, which previously criticised Tesla’s driver assistance system Autopilot after a 2016 fatal crash in Florida, said that the system’s design “permitted the driver to disengage from the driving task” in the Culver City, California, crash. The NTSB said on Tuesday that Autopilot allowed the driver to keep his hands off the wheel for the vast majority of the nearly 14 minutes of the trip.
The fire truck was unoccupied and the driver was not injured in the incident. The NTSB cited the driver’s “inattention and overreliance” on the advanced driver assistance system.
Tesla’s Autopilot was engaged during at least three fatal US crashes, including one involving a 2018 Model 3 in Delray Beach, Florida, and a crash in Mountain View, California, of a Model X. Both incidents, which occurred in March 2018, remain under investigation by the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NTSB makes safety recommendations, while the NHTSA can order a recall if it deems a defect poses an unreasonable risk to safety.