The US traffic safety agency NHTSA is dealing with another fatal accident involving a Tesla vehicle. The financial service Bloomberg reported on Monday that she had asked the electric car manufacturer for more information. The driver of the Tesla car died in the accident over the weekend. One occupant was injured and taken to the hospital, according to the local fire department.
It was initially unknown whether the "Autopilot" driver assistance system was switched on in the Tesla at the time of the accident. NHTSA was investigating in 2021 following previous accidents in which computer-controlled Teslas crashed into stationary fire trucks and ambulances with their warning lights on. Tesla shortly thereafter updated the "Autopilot" software with an update intended to improve the detection of such vehicles.
In the new collision on Saturday night in California, a fire brigade ladder truck was parked at an angle on a stretch of highway to shield clearance work after a previous accident. The fire brigade published photos showing a Tesla vehicle with a very badly damaged front end.
The NHTSA is also conducting investigations into cases in which the "autopilot" software is said to have triggered sudden braking maneuvers. Tesla emphasizes that "Autopilot" is just an assistance system and drivers must always keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to intervene at any time. Nevertheless, accidents were reported in which the people at the wheel relied too much on the software and ignored the traffic situation.
Last week, following further investigation by NHTSA, Tesla announced an update to an advanced version of "Autopilot" software called "Full Self-Driving" that is available for testing in the United States. Contrary to the name, this variant does not turn a Tesla into a self-driving car, but should take traffic lights and traffic signs into account, among other things - and thus be able to navigate through the city. The update will be installed via radio, but is formally managed as a recall. According to the recall notice, cars with the version can, for example, ignore stop signs at intersections and drive straight out of turn lanes.