Tesla driver issued citation after crash involving 'autopilot' technology


Information recovered by Tesla engineers and shared with South Jordan police confirms numerous details the driver, a 28-year-old woman from Lehi, Utah, shared with investigators after her auto slammed into a stopped fire truck at 60 miles per hour.

SAN FRANCISCO - Data from the computer brain of a Tesla Model S that crashed in Utah last week confirms that the $100,000 sedan was in Autopilot mode, police in South Jordan said Wednesday. "She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time".

"Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds", Tesla's report, as released by South Jordan Police Department, said.

In a statement Wednesday, Tesla said that drivers are repeatedly warned to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicle at all times.

The driver, who suffered a broken foot in the accident, has not been identified. On two occasions, the driver had her hands off the wheel for more than a minute each time, reengaging briefly with the steering wheel only after a visual alert from the vehicle.

According to local media, police said the woman at the wheel of the vehicle claimed it was in a self-driving mode and that her attention was on her phone.

The May 11 accident appears to be a textbook case of distracted driving exacerbated by technology that, despite providing visual and audio warnings to drivers, is easy for humans to abuse. The NTSB is also investigating a Tesla Model S crash that left two people dead and another injured in Florida.

According to the South Jordan Police Department's summary of its technician's findings, the 28-year-old driver had repeatedly enabled and disabled the Autopilot throughout the course of her drive.

The NHTSA said it "launched its special crash investigations team to gather information on the South Jordan, Utah, crash", and said it "will take appropriate action based on its review".

Police issued the driver a traffic citation for failure to keep proper lookout. "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the vehicle impervious to all accidents".

The "superior" rating which Model 3 has achieved for IIHS' front crash prevention tests is the same as the rating already achieved by Tesla's Model S and Model X electric vehicles.

The SCI also collects relevant data like vehicle, occupants, injury mechanisms, roadway, and safety systems, which are all obtained from 100 crashes that they will study annually, according to the NHTSA.

AEB is "designed to automatically engage the brakes to reduce the impact of an unavoidable frontal collision with another vehicle" and therefore, drivers should never rely on it to always save them from a crash.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board stated that it is not investigating the Utah crash.