Tesla crash: Owner may have slid into driver's seat before tragic accident

The Tesla EV had smashed into a tree and burst into flames, killing the two occupants.
By HT Auto Desk
| Updated on: 11 May 2021, 08:56 AM
FILE PHOTO: The remains of a Tesla vehicle are seen after it crashed in The Woodlands, Texas, April 17, 2021. (via REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: The remains of a Tesla vehicle are seen after it crashed in The Woodlands, Texas, April 17, 2021. (via REUTERS)

Tesla has been under close scrutiny for the AutoPilot functionality it offers in most of its vehicles after one particular Tesla car crashed in suburban Houston earlier this year, leaving two occupants dead. But what may offer some relief is that the US' National Transportation Safety Board initial investigation has revealed that is possible that the owner of this vehicle may have gotten into the driver's seat before the accident actually took place.

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(Also read: Tesla engineer says Musk overstates reality of Tesla’s autopilot)

There is a lot of mystery surrounding what led to the tragic accident because local law enforcement officials who had rushed to the site had reportedly not found any body in the driver's seat. This had prompted reports that this Tesla may have been in autonomous mode, making many - once again - question the safety standards that such technologies may offer.

Officials have said that one body was found in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat. NTSB continues to investigate the matter but has not ruled out the possibility that the person in the front passenger seat may have moved into the driver's seat before the crash took place.

What is not helping the investigation is that the onboard data storage device was completely destroyed in the fire that broke out moments after the accident.

The accident had taken place on April 17 and reports suggest that the Tesla EV went off the road around a curve, went over a curb before eventually hitting a drainage culvert and a tree. It may have been at a relatively high speed when the accident occurred. The impact of the crash is believed to have damaged the high-voltage lithium-ion battery, causing the fire.

The tragic incident has once again put the nefarious spotlight on Tesla's Autopilot system. While it is not yet confirmed if this system was engaged, many have cast doubts about letting a machine do the driving. A few others also add that Tesla does not have enough systems in place to ensure that the driver's attention is ensured even when Autopilot mode is engaged. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, has repeatedly claimed that the system makes driving far safer than ever before and that the sensors, cameras, radars and other such technologies combine to negate any chances of human error.

First Published Date: 11 May 2021, 08:55 AM IST

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