Fatal Tesla Model X Crash Now Blamed on the Driver

Rescue workers attend the scene where a Tesla electric SUV crashed into a barrier on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View

A Tesla spokesman would not provide additional information about the crash, including how many times the vehicle issued the alerts to Huang while driving or how many warnings are typically issued before the Autopilot system disengages. The lawyer said he doesn't expect to file the complaint until the NTSB wraps up its investigation. The U.S. agency is in the midst of two active investigations into Autopilot-related crashes. The agency recommended Tesla and other automakers take steps to ensure that semi-autonomous systems are not misused. Less than two weeks ago, the NTSB told The Washington Post that it was "unhappy" with Tesla's decision to issue statements and divulge vehicle information during the investigation. The company indicated that with minimum follow distances that drivers needed to be attentive to the road and ready to intervene with hands on the steering wheel.

The difficulty of keeping drivers in automated vehicles engaged - combined with the broader safety benefits of ensuring that drivers in traditional vehicles aren't peering at electronic devices or nodding off - is a growing safety concern that's spurred several auto companies, including GM and Subaru, to deploy infrared cameras in the cockpit trained on the driver to track head and eye movement. "One might consider whether there are better ways to prevent drivers from hurting themselves or, worse, others".

Motorists today are bombarded by distractions from mobile phones to in-dash navigation systems, Reimer said. A 2017 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the rate of accidents for Autopilot-enabled Tesla cars dropped by 40 percent after the activation of the technology.

On March 23 a Model X slammed into a concrete highway barrier in Mountain View, California, killing driver Walter Huang, 38.

It added that the system had actively provided several visual and one audible hands-on warnings earlier in the drive, but these were not heeded. The company said the "only" explanation for the crash was "if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the vehicle providing multiple warnings to do so".

While sympathizing with the family, Tesla again blamed Huang on Wednesday, saying the driver was well aware that Autopilot was not flawless and, specifically, he had previously told them it was not reliable in that exact location, but nonetheless he engaged Autopilot.

The NTSB said it clamped down because Tesla had violated an agreement not to disclose details of the crash while it was investigating. The driver, who wasn't hurt, told people on the scene he was using Autopilot, according to a tweet by the union for Culver City firefighters.

Tesla Inc. again placed blame for a fatal crash involving a Model X last month on the driver as the man's family hires a firm to explore legal options.

"What Tesla has is basically a sensor that just detects whether your hands are on the wheel", said Mike Ramsey, an analyst at researcher Gartner Inc. It's somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 seconds or longer.

The firm said its "preliminary review" points to Tesla as being at fault over the fatal crash.

With the automaker's long-awaited Model 3 still trickling out of the factory in low numbers since its launch in July previous year, industry experts are questioning whether Tesla can handle a second vehicle at a plant with an already sluggish production rate. "It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists", the company said. "We are clearly picking up technology in the auto, portable phones, et cetera, at rates that are far and above what should be socially acceptable".

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