WASHINGTON, July 18 (Reuters) – U.S. auto safety regulators are opening a special crash investigation into a fatal crash in California involving a 2018 Tesla Model 3 suspected of relying on advanced driver assistance systems, the government agency said on Tuesday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the July 5 crash in South Lake Tahoe that killed the 17-year-old driver of a 2013 Subaru Impreza after a head-on collision with a Tesla Model 3 and fatally injured him for three months. -old passenger in the Tesla who died several days later, the California Highway Patrol said.
Since 2016, the US auto safety regulator has opened more than three dozen Tesla special crash investigations in cases where systems such as Autopilot were suspected of being used, with 22 accidental deaths reported as of Tuesday.
Autopilot is a feature designed to steer, accelerate and brake cars automatically within their lane, while Enhanced Autopilot can assist with changing lanes on motorways. Tesla, which did not respond to requests for comment, says the system requires active human supervision.
The Subaru was going an estimated 55 miles per hour (88.51 kilometers per hour) while the Tesla was going 45 mph when they collided, a police report said. The Tesla driver suffered serious injuries and two other Tesla passengers suffered moderate injuries.
“There are no charges at this time. Vehicle and car seat inspections are currently being conducted,” a California Highway Patrol spokesperson said.
This is the first new special crash investigation involving Tesla and suspected use of driver-assistance systems since two were opened in March, including one in February’s fatal crash in California involving a 2014 Tesla ( TSLA.O ) Model S and a fire engine in Contra Costa County, California.
A local fire department in California said a Tesla hit one of the fire trucks and the Tesla driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
The second investigation in March involves a 2022 Tesla Model Y that struck and seriously injured a 17-year-old student getting off a school bus in North Carolina.
NHTSA typically opens more than 100 “special” crash investigations annually into new technologies and other potential auto safety issues that, for example, have previously helped develop airbag safety rules.
These are separate from deficiency investigations opened by the agency to determine whether a safety recall is warranted.
In June, NHTSA upgraded to an engineering analysis its faulty probe into 830,000 Tesla vehicles with the Autopilot driver assistance system and collisions with parked emergency vehicles, including fire engines.
NHTSA said earlier this month that it was seeking updated answers and current data from Tesla in the Autopilot probe by Wednesday.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Chizu Nomiyama and Deepa Babington
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