Tesla, Inc., a company founded by Elon Musk which manufactures electric cars, has come under fire recently. Advocacy groups are concerned that misleading marketing may lead owners to believe that the company’s autopilot system can serve in place of a driver being in control of the vehicle. The autopilot system can adjust speed, keep the vehicle in a lane, and even brake automatically if necessary. The company says that they are adamant that a driver must always keep their hands on the wheel while driving. Now, U.S. Government agencies are looking into the safety of the vehicles after a spate of deadly crashes, as CNBC reports.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that they are sending teams to investigate a fatal accident in Florida involving a Tesla vehicle.
The most recent crash happened on Friday and involved a Tesla Model 3 and a tractor-trailer. The Tesla Model 3 crashed into the tractor-trailer, shearing off the roof as it drove beneath the truck. The driver was killed at the scene.
The report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department did not indicate if the autopilot feature was active at the time of the crash. This will be one aspect of the agency’s investigation.
This is not the first Tesla crash that the NHTSA is investigating. They are also probing three other accidents to see if the autopilot feature was engaged at the time of the collisions.
One of those three accidents is another fatal Florida accident in which two teenagers were killed. The autopilot was not engaged in that crash.
Although both agencies will be investigating, the NTSB can only make safety recommendations. The NHTSA, however, has the power to make recalls if a safety issue is discovered.