Tesla confirms car involved in crashed on Bangerter Highway was on autopilot mode

Tesla recently confirmed that the Tesla Model S that was involved in a traffic crash on May 11 was on autopilot mode (Photo: Dan Rascon/ Twitter)

(KUTV)- Tesla recently confirmed that the Tesla Model S that was involved in a traffic crash on May 11 was on autopilot mode, but that the vehicle registered the drivers hands were off the wheel more than a dozen times before the crash happened.

Though Tesla's Autopilot feature indicates that a driver must be paying attention to the road at all times, the 28-year-old driver from Lehi told police she was looking down at her phone and playing with the cars GPS system prior to the collision.

The crash occurred near 10400 South Bangerter Highway in South Jordan, and witnesses say the driver of the Tesla did not brake or take any action to avoid the collision.

Police issued the driver of the Tesla a traffic citation for failure to keep proper lookout under South Jordan City municipal code 10.28.030.

Technicians from Tesla successfully recovered the data from the vehicle. According to Tesla’s report, the vehicle indicated:

  • The driver engaged Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control on multiple occasions during this drive cycle. She repeatedly cancelled and then re-engaged these features, and regularly adjusted the vehicle’s cruising speed.
  • Drivers are repeatedly advised Autopilot features do not make Tesla vehicles “autonomous” and that the driver absolutely must remain vigilant with their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and they must be prepared to take any and all action necessary to avoid hazards on the road.
  • The vehicle registered more than a dozen instances of her hands being off the steering wheel in this drive cycle. On two such occasions, she had her hands off the wheel for more than one minute each time and her hands came back on only after a visual alert was provided. Each time she put her hands back on the wheel, she took them back off the wheel after a few seconds.
  • About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within two seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again. She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time.
  • The vehicle was traveling at about 60 mph when the crash happened. This is the speed the driver selected.
  • The driver manually pressed the vehicle brake pedal fractions of a second prior to the crash.
  • Contrary to the proper use of Autopilot, the driver did not pay attention to the road at all times, did not keep her hands on the steering wheel, and she used it on a street with no center median and with stoplight controlled intersections.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent an investigation team to Utah to conduct their own review of this incident. Police ask you to contact NHTSA with requests specific to NHTSA’s involvement NHTSAMedia@dot.gov.

Police want to remind drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles, that it is the driver’s responsibility to stay alert, drive safely, and be in control of the vehicle at all times:

Tesla makes it clear that drivers should always watch the road in front of them and be prepared to take corrective actions. Failure to do so can result in serious injury or death. Check with the vehicle’s owner manual to determine if this technology can be used on city streets or not.
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