US Investigators to Probe Crash Between Tesla Vehicle, Fire Truck

Alicia Guzman
January 25, 2018

The driver told authorities their Tesla was on Autopilot mode when it crashed into the back of a parked fire truck on Interstate 405 in Culver City, Calif., on Monday.

According to Culver City firefighters, who Tweeted a picture and information from the scene, the firetruck was parked on the shoulder of the freeway while its crew worked an accident. Regarding the accident itself, however, the spokesperson said, "Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver". "Amazingly there were no injuries". "Smart people around the world are hard at work to automate driving, but systems available to consumers today, like Tesla's "Autopilot" system, are created to assist drivers with specific tasks in limited environments". If this was a case of the driver sticking on Autopilot, and forgetting their responsibility to watch the road ahead it wouldn't be the first time.

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The NTSB recommended auto safety regulators and automakers take steps to ensure that semi-autonomous systems are not misused. The system is only developed to lower the driver's workload by taking over mundane and repetitive tasks like avoiding other moving cars and staying in the lane. If the driver never responds, the auto will gradually slow down until it stops and the flashing hazard lights will come on.

No one was hurt, but the accident is being investigated by a team from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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Tesla's Autopilot is a driving aid that requires the operator of the vehicle to maintain control at all times. Model S also comes with Autopilot capabilities. Over the weekend a drunk driver in San Francisco was arrested for being passed out behind the wheel of a Tesla.

The driver had a blood alcohol content almost double the legal limit and a tenuous relationship with consciousness when his vehicle slammed into the back of a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 in Culver City.

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According to commentators, the investigation offers NTSB's highway division an opportunity to focus on broader safety issues related to automated driving technologies and how Tesla's Autopilot system functions, but may not necessarily lead to a full report and a meeting before the agency's five-member board.

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