Tesla driver issued citation after crash involving ‘autopilot’ technology

Local News

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (News4Utah) – A Tesla driver was issued a traffic citation Wednesday after she was involved in a crash and the car’s “autopilot” feature was engaged.

The Tesla Model S slammed into the back of a truck at 60 mph. The truck had been stopped at a red light. Witnesses told police the driver of the Tesla did not brake or make any attempt to avoid the collision. Police said the Tesla driver, a 28-year-old Lehi woman, admitted to using the autopilot feature at the time of the crash. 

Technicians from Tesla recovered the data from the car and reported the following findings:

  • The driver engaged Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control on multiple occasions during this drive cycle. She repeatedly cancelled and then re-engaged these features, and regularly adjusted the vehicle’s cruising speed.
  • The vehicle registered more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel in this drive cycle. 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. Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds.
  • About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within two seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again. She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time.
  • The vehicle was traveling at about 60 mph when the crash happened. This is the speed the driver selected.
  • The driver manually pressed the vehicle brake pedal fractions of a second prior to the crash.

Police in South Jordan said based on these findings, the woman was given ticket.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a team to conduct its own investigation into the incident.

Tesla said drivers are repeatedly advised Autopilot features do not make Tesla vehicles “autonomous” and that the driver absolutely must remain vigilant with their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and they must be prepared to take any and all action necessary to avoid hazards on the road.

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