US authorities in charge of highway safety had dispatched a team to look into a collision involving a Tesla that may have been using a partially automated driving system when it struck a student getting from a school bus.
The accident on March 15 in North Carolina that wounded a 17-year-old charter school student will be investigated, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on Friday.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the 51-year-old male driver of the 2022 Tesla Model Y allegedly failed to stop for the bus even though it was flashing all of its activated warning indicators.
The agency feels the Tesla operating system, which controls various parts of driving, including Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving,” is partially to fault for crashes for which it sends special investigation teams.
Tesla, which shut down its media relations division, was unavailable for comment. Despite the titles, Tesla has stated that drivers must constantly monitor the driver-assist system and be prepared to take control if necessary.
Since 2016, the NHTSA has dispatched investigation teams to more than 30 accidents in which Teslas are thought to have been using Autopilot or “Full Self-Driving,” colliding with semi-trailers, parked emergency vehicles, and pedestrians and motorcyclists. The accidents have resulted in at least 14 fatalities.
The organization declined to comment on ongoing investigations, but in the previous year, it increased its scrutiny of Teslas and sought many recalls.
Accidents brought on by Tesla’s self-driving technology prompted a little-known consumer advocacy group to run an expensive Super Bowl ad in February to highlight the risks.
According to The Dawn Project, drivers and pedestrians are at risk from Tesla’s self-driving technology. Cities where the advertisement was broadcast, included Atlanta, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
According to Michael Brooks, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, Tesla and NHTSA must ascertain why the vehicles don’t appear to notice flashing lights on school buses and emergency vehicles and ensure the issue is remedied.
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“I’ve been saying probably for a couple of years now, they need to figure out why these vehicles aren’t recognizing flashing lights for a big starter,” Brooks said. “NHTSA needs to step in and get them to do a recall because that’s a serious safety issue.”
The EPA made public a probe into up to 120,000 Model Y SUVs’ steering wheels that can separate from the steering column earlier this month.
The NHTSA is also looking into seat belts that may not be appropriately fastened in some Tesla models and have previously looked into claims of Tesla’s braking unexpectedly and for no apparent reason.
In February, NHTSA urged Tesla to recall roughly 363,000 cars equipped with “Full Self-Driving” software because the program can violate traffic regulations.
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