NTSB Schedules September Meeting to Determine Cause of 2016 Tesla Autopilot Crash

NTSB Schedules September Meeting to Determine Cause of 2016 Tesla Autopilot Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has scheduled a public meeting to determine the probable cause of a 2016 fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S that was operating in Autopilot mode.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has scheduled a public meeting to determine the probable cause of a 2016 fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S that was operating in Autopilot mode.

On May 7, 2016, near Williston, Fla., the driver of a 2015 Tesla Model S died when he collided with a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia on U.S. Highway 27A. At the time of the crash, the Tesla’s cruise-control and lane-keeping features were engaged, and the Model S was traveling at 74 mph.

A team of five NTSB investigators went to Williston to conduct the on-scene phase of the investigation, using three-dimensional laser scanning to document the crash location, the damaged trailer and the damaged car. As the investigation progressed, the team expanded to cover nine areas of inquiry.

The NTSB issued its preliminary report in July 2016 and opened a docket for the crash this past June.

The public NTSB meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C. The meeting will be viewable via webcast.

Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that there were no defects in Tesla’s driver-assistance technology.

After analyzing data from Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with Autopilot, NHTSA also determined that the system might actually improve safety – noting that crash rates were 40 percent lower for Tesla vehicles that have the Autopilot technology.

Among the agency’s findings, NHTSA asserted that the fatal May 2016 crash “appears to have involved a period of extended [driver] distraction.” The agency noted that Tesla’s driver-assistance system “requires the continual and full attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment and be prepared to take action to avoid crashes.

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