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Investigators Announce Probe Into Tesla Autopilot Crashes That Resulted in 17 Injuries and 1 Death

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an investigation focusing on autopilot in Tesla Models Y, X, S and 3.

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American auto safety regulators opened a formal safety probe into Tesla’s Autopilot program on Friday following a number of crashes that involved emergency vehicles.

NICOLAS ASFOURI | Getty Images

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the probe Monday, pointing out that since January 2018, it found 11 crashes in which Tesla vehicles “encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes." In those, it said, there were 17 injuries and one death. 

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The preliminary evaluation focuses on Autopilot in Tesla Models Y, X, S and 3 made from 2014 to 2021. In total, the probe is looking at around 765,000 cars in America. 

“Most incidents took place after dark and the crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such a first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones,” said the Office of Defects Investigation in a summary of the preliminary probe. “The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes.” 

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The investigation will assess the technology and methods used to monitor and assist drivers when Autopilot is on and will examine the contributing circumstances for crashes.