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NHTSA is investigating 27 Tesla crashes, and about time too

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The US’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is opening 27 investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles.

Four of the investigations have been completed, but no results appear to have been shared yet. US News reports that at least three of the crashes being investigated happened in the past few weeks.

According to the report, the NHTSA’s Special Crash Investigation team analyses 100 crashes a year, focusing on new and emerging technologies, like Tesla’s Autopilot.

Over the past month, there have been two crashes in Michigan involving Tesla vehicles.

In one recent incident, a Tesla driver, who is believed to have be using Autopilot at the time, rear-ended a state police vehicle. Luckily no one was injured on this occasion.

In the other crash, a Tesla crashed into a semi-articulated truck’s trailer. The driver and passenger were both taken to hospital. The passenger is reported to have sustained “serious head trauma.” Initial investigations resolved that Autopilot wasn’t engaged at the time of this incident.

Despite a string of serious road traffic incidents involving Tesla vehicles over the past fives years, the NHTSA remained passive.

However, as reports suggest, it seems that the safety body will no longer sit back as serious incidents continue to occur. It comes as President Joe Biden seeks to cast a keener eye over the regulation of advanced driver assistance tech.

It’s about damn time, too. It’s not like serious incidents involving Teslas on Autopilot are a new thing.

There is still much debate over the efficacy of systems like Tesla’s Autopilot. While it has been known to save drivers from potential accidents, its misuse can have devastating consequences.

We can only hope that the NHTSA’s investigations lead to valuable insights that can help inform regulation of advanced driver assistance systems like Autopilot.

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Published March 19, 2021 — 09:04 UTC

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