The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recently released a two-page report detailing its preliminary findings surrounding a fatal Tesla crash that left two Houston, Texas residents dead.
The crash happened on April 17, 2021, just 600 feet from where the two travelers started their journey outside one of their homes. The vehicle was equipped with a driver-assistance program marketed as Autopilot. However, it is in dispute whether the self-driving feature was activated at the time of the accident and whether anyone was actually driving the vehicle when it struck a curb, hit a drainage culvert and raised manhole, and hit a tree, causing the vehicle to catch fire. Both men died in the crash.
The Tesla crash drew national attention once it was reported that it could have been a self-driving car crash. In earlier reports, the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said that one of the victims was found in the back seat of the vehicle and the other was found in the front passenger seat and it was believed that no one was driving at the time of impact. However, Tesla’s owner Elon Musk denies that autopilot was not engaged on the vehicle, according to his company’s data.
The NTSB said security camera footage showed the two men in the front seat just before the crash. The vehicle’s restraint control module that can record data regarding the vehicle’s speed, seat belt status, acceleration, and airbag deployment sustained fire damage but was taken by NTSB officials for further evaluation.
The NTSB said that it used a similar vehicle on the same road and the auto-steering feature could not be activated because no painted lines were on the road, just as Musk had argued. However, acceleration and deceleration features could be engaged.
The Tesla accident is still under investigation, and the NTSB has not determined why the accident happened or whether the Tesla owner misused the advanced driver-assistance feature. NTSB probes generally take between 12 and 24 months to complete.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also launched a Special Crash Investigation team to conduct an investigation into the Tesla crash.
Tesla accidents make up less than 1 percent of all Texas accidents and was the only Houston car accident that drew the attention of Congress.
One of the accident victims was a beloved physician in the local community.
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