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Tesla Removed from NTSB Investigation of Car Crash Involving Autonomous Technology

Monday, July 02, 2018By Richard Alexander

Tesla has been removed from the investigation initiated by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in connection with a deadly crash involving one of its cars. The collision took place on March, 23 on a highway near Mountain View California. The driver of the 2017 Tesla Model X died after it crashed into a median barrier and caused a multi-vehicle collision in its aftermath.

NTSB Investigation

The NTSB is authorized to issue safety recommendations but cannot order recalls or impose fines. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can require manufacturer recalls for safety defects and levy fines for failure to comply with its orders. While Tesla claims its Autopilot feature requires drivers to maintain control of the steering wheel with their hands, the NTSB found that Tesla was culpable in a previous crash that also resulted in a death.

The NTSB has become increasingly involved in investigations regarding the safety of driverless vehicles as they have become more prominent on the roads. As such, the organization announced that it would send investigators to determine what happened in the fiery collision that killed the Tesla driver. The NTSB stated that it intended to examine several issues including whether the automatic control system was activated when the crash occurred and the circumstances following the crash, including the fire.

Tesla Invited to Participate in Investigation

The NTSB’s “party system” allows organizations that can offer technical knowledge to take part in investigation proceedings. A participating party must agree to abide by the rules set forth by the NTSB, including maintaining the confidentiality of information before it is publicly released. The NTSB invited Tesla to contribute to the investigation of the deadly crash of the 2017 Tesla Model X.

The NTSB Removes Tesla From its Probe

On April 2, the NTSB announced that Tesla was no longer permitted to participate as a party in the investigation of the fatal Tesla accident. The NTSB explained that it removed Tesla from the probe because the automaker released information before it was reviewed and confirmed by the NTSB. The agency stated that the premature release of information may lead to speculative assumptions about the circumstances surrounding the crash, which could hamper the process. The NTSB has rescinded party involvement in the past when the terms of participation have been violated, but such revocations are rare.

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