Probe of fatal Tesla crash ends without a recall

A recent probe of a fatal Tesla crash has ended without a recall being issued by the United States. The investigation centered around Tesla's Autopilot system in a vehicle that was involved in a fatal accident. Despite the lack of a recall, the investigators criticized the way Tesla Motors markets the feature.

The crash occurred on May 7 in Florida and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was unable to find any defects in the vehicle at the time of the crash. A spokesman for the NHTSA said that the vehicle and Autopilot system are primarily designed to avoid rear-end collisions. The spokesperson said that the NHTSA, in its investigation, also reviewed an accident that injured two on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and dozens of other accidents involving the Autopilot system that saw airbags deploy.

No fines will be levied on Tesla by the NHTSA, but the organization did criticize the company for calling its system Autopilot. The investigation began on June 28, almost two months following the fatal accident. A driver of a Tesla Model S was killed when the Autopilot feature failed to notice a tractor trailer crossing in front of the vehicle in Williston, Florida.

The Autopilot system designed by Tesla uses a combination of computers, cameras and radar to detect if the vehicle is going to hit something. The system also has the ability to steer the vehicle to keep it centered in one lane. Tesla has said in the past that before using Autopilot, drivers must be aware that it is an "assist" feature and that they might have to take control of the vehicle at any time.

According to data gathered from the vehicle, the cameras on the Tesla failed to notice the truck because it was white and there was a brightly lit sky. Tesla said neither the system nor the driver applied the brakes.

Tesla noted that the closure of the investigation without a recall "helps clarify that cars are still supposed to be driven by attentive people, and if people behind the wheel aren't attentive, it's not the technology's fault."

An experienced products liability lawyer can guide you through an auto defects case in Nashville, Tennessee.

Source: The Nashville Ledger, "US ends probe of Tesla fatal crash without seeking recall," Jan. 19, 2017

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