Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Tesla driver had her hands off wheel before crash

Tesla driver had her hands off wheel before crash

Information recovered by Tesla engineers and shared with South Jordan police confirms numerous details the driver, a 28-year-old woman from Lehi, Utah, shared with investigators after her auto slammed into a stopped fire truck at 60 miles per hour.

In this Friday, May 11, 2018, photo released by the South Jordan Police Department shows a traffic collision involving a Tesla Model S sedan with a Fire Department mechanic truck stopped at a red light in South Jordan, Utah.

"Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds", Tesla's report, as released by South Jordan Police Department, said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is dispatching a team to investigate a recent crash in South Jordan in which the driver of a Tesla vehicle reported she had placed the auto on autopilot mode at the time of the crash, Reuters reports.

"It's super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40,000 people who died in U.S. auto accidents alone in past year get nearly no coverage", Musk said in a tweet. The driver of the Unified fire vehicle was examined for whiplash-related injuries at the scene but was not taken to the hospital for treatment. On two occasions, the driver had her hands off the wheel for more than a minute each time, reengaging briefly with the steering wheel only after a visual alert from the auto. The Tesla driver suffered a broken ankle.

Police told FOX 13 that the woman reported she was using the car's autopilot feature at the time of the crash, which happened on Bangerter Highway and 10400 S around 6:30 p.m. that day.

According to Tesla data shared by South Jordan police in a statement, the driver repeatedly engaged and disengaged Tesla's Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control on multiple occasions while traveling around suburbs south of Salt Lake City.

It is at least the second Tesla crash linked to the semi-autonomous Autopilot system being investigated by the government agency since January. On two such occasions, she had her hands off the wheel for more than one minute each time and her hands came back on only after a visual alert was provided.

Police issued the driver a traffic citation for failure to keep proper lookout.

Last week, NHTSA also said it would probe a May 8 Tesla accident in Florida that killed two teenagers and injured another. The NTSB had yet to announce whether they will be looking into the Utah crash.

Furthermore, it's now the fourth investigation into a crash involving a Tesla vehicle in just 2 months, which might be a record.

Tesla says the system is not created to avoid a collision and warns drivers not to rely on it entirely; it's unclear if the system activated before this crash.

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