NTSB probing 4th Tesla crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it will begin examining the fiery crash of a Model S that killed two teenagers, the fourth active federal probe into accidents involving Tesla vehicles, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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In the latest investigation, the NTSB said it is initially focusing on the emergency response to the fire that was sparked by the car’s lithium-ion battery. In this accident, the driver and front-seat passenger of a 2014 Model S sedan were killed after the car swerved off a road, hit a concrete wall and burst into flames. A third passenger was taken to the hospital.

Commenting on the accident, Tesla said, “We have not yet been able to retrieve the logs from the vehicle, but everything we have seen thus far indicates a very high-speed collision and that Autopilot was not engaged.”

The local police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – where the crash occurred – said they believed speed was a factor behind the crash.

The NTSB is investigating three other traffic incidents involving Tesla vehicles. One of the crashes resulted in a fatality and raised concerns about the safety of Autopilot. Tesla acknowledged that Autopilot was engaged before the crash and the driver’s hands were not detected on the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash occurred. Meanwhile, the NTSB is investigating a battery fire linked to a Model X that hit a home’s garage last August, as well as a crash involving a Model S and a firetruck.

In September, after an investigation, the NTSB determined that a truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way and a Tesla driver’s inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation were the cause of a fatal crash on May 7, 2016, in Florida. As a result of its investigation the NTSB issued several new safety recommendations.

New recommendations were for: event data to be captured and available in standard formats on new vehicles equipped with automated vehicle control systems; for manufacturers to incorporate system safeguards to limit the use of automated control systems and the development of applications to more effectively sense a driver’s level of engagement and alert when engagement is lacking.

The NTSB is requesting manufacturers report incidents, crashes and exposure numbers involving vehicles equipped with automated vehicle control systems.