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Tesla Crashes under Investigation

Timely Insights on Laws, Issues and New Developements
TeslaTesla crashes involving the company’s self-driving cars are being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NHTSA released a list last summer with details about crashes it was reviewing. For a more extensive list, claims there have been 240 deaths involving Tesla cars so far, with 12 deaths involving driverless cars.

Autopilot Issues

Investigators said Tesla’s autopilot was operating in at least three Tesla vehicles involved in fatal crashes since 2016.

Two dead in Texas Tesla Crash

Two men died north of Houston, Texas in April 2021. A Harris County constable said no one was in the driver’s seat in that Tesla which sped down a cul de sac before crashing into a tree. Witnesses reported seeing an explosion. The fire department poured more than 23,000 gallons of water on the fire which wouldn’t quit.

Tesla CEO Elon Mush has said the company is on the verge of delivering full autonomy, meaning its cars wouldn’t require human assistance. Mr. Musk raised more than $2 billion in 2019 and predicted that 2020 would be the year of the robotaxi, which of course has not happened.

Tesla ER Crashes

Tesla cars have also had a strange propensity to crash into emergency response vehicles. Teslas have crashed into ER vehicles at least 11 times, resulting in more than 17 injuries and one death.

Derrick Monet, whose wife Jenna died after their Tesla running on autopilot rear-ended a fire truck, said in his lawsuit complaint: “Tesla blurs the distinction between whether its automation system is merely a ‘driver assist’ system or an autonomous system that doesn’t require the driver’s constant attention.”

Tesla is fighting other lawsuits over fatal accidents linked to its Autopilot, though none has yet seen a court room.

Tesla’s web site states: “Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment.”

That case is Monet v. Tesla-Inc., 5:22-cv-00681, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Tesla Crashes and Burns in Florida

In a Florida crash last fall, a dash cam from another driver appears to catch a Tesla suspension failure which resulted in the battery’s hitting a street or curb and igniting just moments before the car crashed into a tree, killing two people in the car. The 21-year-old driver, who was killed along with a 19-year-old woman passenger, is thought to be traveling faster than 80 mph prior to the crash. The video makes it appear that he may have been trying to beat a red light as the car bottomed out, triggering flame as it did so, then crashed and burst into flames. The car reignited after firefighters had put out the blaze, which is not an uncommon occurrence following a Tesla crash and burn.


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by Matthews & Associates

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