Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Utah Tesla driver had hands off wheel before crash

Utah Tesla driver had hands off wheel before crash

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.

Data from the vehicle showed that the driver repeatedly cancelled and then re-engaged features of the semi-autnonomous driving system "autopilot", according to Tesla technicians. She had previously told police she had engaged the system and was looking at her phone to compare route maps when the accident occurred.

Police say the auto smashed into a stationary firetruck at around 100km/h, leaving the driver with a broken right ankle.

It is at least the second Tesla crash linked to the semi-autonomous Autopilot system being investigated by the government agency since January.

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The vehicle registered more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel in this drive cycle. The woman told police the car's autopilot technology was on at the time of the crash. Both drivers of the two vehicles sustained minor injuries, based on the police statement.

The South Jordan Police Department confirmed today that the driver received a traffic citation for "failure to keep proper lookout".

"About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again", the police report says.

A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment on what steps the company may take following the incident, but reiterated in a statement that the Tesla autopilot feature does not relieve a driver from the responsibility to stay closely engaged with the vehicle's operation.

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The Tesla report also noted that instructions provided to drivers about their vehicle's automation features expressly instruct that they maintain attention, and hands on the wheel, at all times.

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.

According to the report, the Tesla was traveling at 60 miles per hour at the time of the crash, and the driver braked "fractions of a second" prior to the crash. According to the summary released by police, the driver pressed on the brake herself "fractions of a second prior to the crash" and the vehicle had not slowed down from the speed she had set for cruise control.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a separate government agency that looks into accidents and makes safety recommendations, has said it is not investigating the Utah crash.

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The NTSB said it has not opened an investigation into the Utah crash.

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