A Tesla Model S recently crashed into a stationary fire truck on Interstate 405 Monday morning. Despite The Tesla’s driver refused to take responsibility for the collision, stating that he should not be held liable because the car was driving itself when it smashed into the emergency vehicle.
According to Culver City firefighters who were at the scene of the incident, the electric car’s driver was under the impression that because Autopilot was engaged, there was no need for him to actively control the vehicle, or to stay fully conscious, for that matter. The driver of the Model S was completely unharmed by the accident. Culver City firefighters further noted that the man behind the wheel of the Tesla refused to get any medical attention.
Since Tesla rolled out Autopilot for the first time, the California-based electric car maker and energy firm has strongly advised drivers that the system is not fully autonomous. Tesla has also urged drivers to always be alert and ready to take over when Autopilot is in control of the vehicle. In a statement to The Washington Post, a Tesla representative explained that Autopilot is a system designed for use by fully attentive drivers.
“Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver,” the Tesla representative said, according the the Post.
Despite the incident seemingly being a clear case of a distracted driver causing an accident on a freeway, the fact that the incident involved a Model S allegedly on Autopilot became a point of discussion among Tesla critics and supporters. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has taken notice of the incident as well, announcing on Tuesday that it was dispatching two investigators to launch a field probe into the accident.
While working a freeway accident this morning, Engine 42 was struck by a #Tesla traveling at 65 mph. The driver reports the vehicle was on autopilot. Amazingly there were no injuries! Please stay alert while driving! #abc7eyewitness #ktla #CulverCity #distracteddriving pic.twitter.com/RgEmd43tNe— Culver City Firefighters (@CC_Firefighters) January 22, 2018
According to a report from The Hill, the NTSB’s investigators will focus on “driver and vehicle factors.” The safety agency is still gathering information about the incident, and its two investigators will begin work on their field probe starting Wednesday.
So far, Tesla has not released a statement about the latest Model S DUI accident. Considering that Tesla can retrieve data on the vehicle, however, it would probably not take long before the California-based electric car maker and energy firm can release a the car’s data showing how long Autopilot had been engaged, and how much interaction the car had with its driver in the minutes leading up to the collision.