Tesla Crash on the 405 Freeway in Culver City gets Feds Attention
The Tesla crashed into the back of Culver City Fire Department’s Engine 42 on Monday morning as it was working on a freeway incident. The vehicle was going approximately 65 miles per hour when it hit the fire truck but the driver was not injured. The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating the driver and the vehicle.
Tesla released a statement after the crash stating, “Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver.”
According to Tesla the Autopilot feature is supposed to keep the vehicle centered in its lane at a preset distance from vehicles in front of it. It is also supposed to change lanes and break automatically.
The Tesla Model S, noted Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor, is a level 2 on a self-driving scale of 0-5. Level 2 automation systems are typically limited to use on interstates and freeways where there are no intersections. Drivers are supposed to continuously monitor Level 2 vehicles and be prepared to resume control if necessary.
In Monday’s crash, the California Highway Patrol stated that the southbound Tesla hit the rear corner of the Culver City fire truck as it was parked at an angle in the carpool lane. Fire fighters were working on a crash that had occurred earlier on the opposite side of the freeway and the truck was unoccupied at the time. No injuries were reported.
According to Tesla’s website, vehicles with automation systems measure the amount of torque applied to the steering wheel and also send visual and audio warnings. If those warnings are ignored long enough, the vehicle will not allow the automation system to be turned on any longer. This is to help keep drivers from misusing the Autopilot feature.
Monday’s Culver City crash was the second Tesla Autopilot crash in ten days. Last week a Tesla crashed on the Bay Bridge. In that case it is suspected that the driver was passed out drunk behind the wheel.
Both crashes are being investigated by the NHTSA, which warns automakers not to treat semi-autonomous cars as if they are fully self-driving. Martin Feinberg, Realtor, looks forward to reading their findings.