Utah Tesla driver had hands off wheel before crash

Mike Blake  Reuters

Mike Blake Reuters

On two such occasions, the driver had her hands off the wheel for more than one minute each time and her hands came back on only after a visual alert, the Tesla report said. Federal officials blamed the truck's driver for failing to yield, on the driver for relying too heavily on Autopilot, and on Elon Musk-led Tesla - the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that Autopilot contributed to the crash by allowing lengthy disengagement from the driving process, on a roadway unsuitable for the semi-autonomous-driving system.

At the time, she told the police that the vehicle was on Autopilot and later admitted that she was on her phone.

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

"When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times", a Tesla spokeswoman was quoted as saying.

It is the third Tesla crash since January that the NHTSA is investigating that may have been linked to autopilot. "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the auto impervious to all accidents".

During the driver's trip, she reportedly toggled Autopilot and active cruise control on and off on multiple occasions, and modified the vehicle's cruise speed at varying points. Tesla says the system is not created to avoid a collision and warns drivers not to rely on it entirely. Against eyewitness reports, the car's computer did reportedly register brake pedal application, as well as her hands' return to the wheel, but the reaction was too little, too late.

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The South Jordan Police Department confirmed today that the driver received a traffic citation for "failure to keep proper lookout".

She re-enabled Autopilot 1m22s before the crash, let go of the wheel two seconds later and then didn't touch the wheel again before hitting the truck at 97km/h.

According to the report, the Tesla was traveling at 60 miles per hour at the time of the crash, and the driver braked "fractions of a second" prior to the crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is dispatching a team to investigate a recent crash in South Jordan in which the driver of a Tesla vehicle reported she had placed the auto on autopilot mode at the time of the crash, Reuters reports.

With those types of crashes, people often bring up the fact that there's a defect because the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system didn't prevent the crash, but it is not created to stop crashes in all conditions.

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.

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