While Tesla’s cars crash regularly like any other vehicle on the road, the company recently rolled out a full self-driving beta program. As a result, federal agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are keeping a close eye on Tesla. That’s where this recent crash comes into play.
According to Automotive News, a Model Y crashed into a semi-truck last week, causing serious injuries to both its driver and passenger. While both reportedly survived the incident, the NHTSA decided to launch a federal investigation in response. As of writing, we don’t know if autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash.
How did this Tesla crash into a semi-truck?
Since this Tesla crash is still under investigation, we don’t have all of the details available. However, Automotive News reports that the crash occurred at 3:20 a.m. last Thursday. Preliminary reports state that the Tesla drove through an intersection, striking the semi-truck. As you might imagine, the EV became wedged underneath the trailer itself, causing severe damage to the vehicle.
Thankfully, both the driver and passenger survived this incident, albeit with major injuries. As for the EV itself, the video embedded above depicts what appears to be a Tesla Model Y. Given this EV’s tall roofline, it was severely squished as it became wedged underneath the trailer.
The million-dollar question now is whether or not the EV’s autopilot system was engaged. Additionally, the NHTSA will likely also evaluate if the Model Y has the full self-driving beta installed. However, for now, this remains to be seen.
Why does it matter if autopilot was engaged?
While this Tesla crash is undoubtedly severe, it likely caught the NHTSA’s attention due to the brand’s autopilot system. According to Automotive News, the system has been engaged during at least three fatal crashes since 2016.
Automotive News reports on a 2019 crash in which a Tesla struck a semi-truck shearing off its roof in the process. The same thing happened in 2016 under similar circumstances. Unfortunately, both drivers passed away at the scene of these accidents.
In 2018, another autopilot-involved Tesla crash caught the federal agency’s attention as an investigation found that the EV accelerated before impacting a metal barrier. While the company’s system will certainly fall under this investigation, the drivers are also at fault.
Will the NHTSA impose strict regulations on Tesla?
While this Tesla crash investigation could be quite damming in the public eye for the brand if autopilot was engaged, it likely won’t result in any major systematic changes. As The Detroit News points out, the NHTSA has taken a very hands-off approach when it comes to Tesla. The Detroit News reports that this is, so the federal agency doesn’t hinder the development of new technologies.
However, as NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt points out in a letter to the NHTSA, owners can now beta-test this full self-driving software on the public roads. While any crash is an unfortunate situation, an incident caused by a beta-tester could potentially put non-consenting motorists and pedestrians at additional in unnecessary danger. However, if the past is anything to go by, this likely won’t change moving forward.