Tesla: Autopilot Was Engaged Before Fatal Collision in California
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Tesla: Autopilot Was Engaged Before Fatal Collision in California

Tesla continues to be in damage-control mode after a March 23 collision that killed the driver of a Tesla Model X SUV in Mountain View, Calif.

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Tesla continues to be in damage-control mode after a March 23 collision that killed the driver of a Tesla Model X SUV in Mountain View, Calif.

In a blog post, Tesla says the vehicle’s self-driving Autopilot feature was engaged and the adaptive cruise control was set to its minimum follow distance prior to the collision, based on the logs from the vehicle’s computer.

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla says. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

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Tesla attributes the severity of the March 23 crash to the fact that a highway safety barrier “had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced.”

“We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash,” Tesla says in its blog post.

The automaker provides some nationwide crash data to try to put the March 23 collision into perspective.

Across all vehicles and OEMs, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles. For Tesla, there is one fatality – including known pedestrian fatalities – every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware, according to the automaker.

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“Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur,” the company says. “It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Based on Tesla’s current safety record, Autopilot could save 900,000 lives per year, according to the company.

“No one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did,” Tesla says. “The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe.”

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