Utah Tesla driver had hands off wheel before crash

Lloyd Doyle
May 17, 2018

The driver of the Tesla Model S told police the auto was in Autopilot, a semi-autonomous mode, and that she was staring at her phone when the sedan plowed into the back of a Utah fire department truck stopped at a red light.

The 28-year-old driver, who was not identified, suffered a broken foot.

Local police told CNBC that NHTSA representatives had already arrived at the scene of the accident.

Data from a Tesla electric vehicle confirms that a Utah driver had engaged the car's semi-autonomous Autopilot functions before she slammed into the back of a fire truck last week.

Minutes later he added, "What's actually fantastic about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle".

The electric auto company cautions drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and remain vigilant even while the vehicle is in semi-autonomous mode. The family of driver Walter Huang alleged that he had taken the vehicle in to the dealer several times, and had complained that Autopilot kept steering him toward the same barrier he ended up hitting.

"Every driver is responsible for remaining alert and active when using Autopilot, and must be prepared to take action at any time", the company states on its website. The driver's use of autopilot was "contrary to proper use", Tesla said, because she "did not pay attention to the road at all times" and used the feature on a street with no center median and with intersections controlled by stoplights.

Tesla's manual warns its drivers that the cruise control feature can not detect all objects and may not brake or slow down for stationery vehicles and that its "automatic emergency braking" is not a substitute for drivers maintaining a safe distance from the cars in front of them.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has repeatedly criticised coverage of the crash, arguing that the media reports disproportionately highlight the dangers faced by Tesla owners. In recent weeks, Tesla has publicly feuded with United States investigators over ongoing federal inquiries related to autopilot.

In March, a Tesla driver was killed when his Model X crashed on a California highway, unleashing a fire and almost ripping the vehicle in half.

In 2016, the driver of a Model S was killed when the auto crashed into a semi-truck in Florida.

The agency said the fire, which may have been exacerbated by the vehicle's battery, is the focus of the investigation, not the vehicle's semiautonomous system.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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