Tesla’s data confirms Model S that crashed into fire truck had Autopilot engaged

  • Tesla has confirmed that the Model S which crashed into a fire department vehicle in Utah on Friday had Autopilot engaged at the time of the collision, according to a report from the South Jordan Police Department.
  • The driver had her hands off the wheel and was looking at her phone before the crash, according to a report Tesla made after examining the vehicle’s data logs and provided to the South Jordan Police Department.
  • Tesla has repeatedly said drivers must be attentive, keep their hands on the wheel, and be able to take control of the vehicle when using Autopilot, which is not a fully autonomous system.

Tesla has confirmed that the Model S which crashed into a fire department vehicle in Utah on Friday had Autopilot engaged at the time of the collision, according to a report from the South Jordan Police Department.

The South Jordan Police Department released the report, which provides new details about the events that led to the crash, on Wednesday. The new details come from a report Tesla created after examining the vehicle’s data logs and provided to the South Jordan Police Department.

The driver took her hands off the wheel before the crash

According to Tesla’s report, the driver turned Autopilot’s semi-autonomous driver assistance features on and off multiple times during the drive. The report states that the driver took her hands off the wheel over 12 times during the drive. Twice, the driver had her hands off the wheel for over a minute, returning them to the wheel briefly after receiving a visual warning, the report says.

About 82 seconds before the crash, the driver re-engaged Autopilot and kept her hands off the wheel for 80 seconds before the collision, according to the report. The report also says that the vehicle was traveling at around 60 mph at the time of the collision, a speed the driver selected.

It was previously reported that the driver told police she had been looking at her phone at the time of the collision, which left her with a broken ankle.

Autopilot requires hands on the wheel

Tesla has repeatedly said drivers must be attentive, keep their hands on the wheel, and be able to take control of the vehicle when using Autopilot, which is not a fully autonomous system. The system can keep a car in its lane and adjust its speed based on surrounding traffic.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote about the crash and the response it received on Twitter on Monday.

“It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage,” he wrote.

“What’s actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle. An impact at that speed usually results in severe injury or death,” he wrote in another tweet.

“When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times,” a Tesla representative told Business Insider in an email. “Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.”

Other crashes involving Autopilot have drawn attention

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sent a team to investigate the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating four crashes involving Tesla vehicles, some of which involve Autopilot. The agency is not investigating Friday’s crash.

In March, a Model X crashed into a highway barrier in Mountain View, California, while Autopilot was engaged. The driver, Walter Huang, died after being taken to the hospital. Tesla said the driver had received multiple warnings to return his hands to the wheel throughout the drive and indicated a shortened impact attenuator increased the damage to Huang and the vehicle.

In January, a Model S crashed into a fire department vehicle in California while Autopilot was engaged.

While some competitors, like General Motors, Nissan, and Daimler, have also introduced driver assistance features with similar capabilities, others are nervous about including semi-autonomous systems in their vehicles because they fear drivers will place too much trust in them and fail to pay attention to the road.