WASHINGTON, D.C – After a deadly Tesla crash in Texas on Saturday, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, called on federal investigators to conduct a thorough probe into the crash, and to develop recommendations for how automated driving and driving assistance systems like Tesla’s Autopilot can be improved. According to initial reports, no one was behind the wheel of the Tesla vehicle that crashed in Texas on Saturday, killing two men. Following the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk Tweeted that the vehicle’s Autopilot was not enabled, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have each launched an investigation.
“While automated driving and driver assistance systems – like the Autopilot feature on Tesla cars – can help prevent injurious and fatal accidents, they must be implemented strategically and safely,” wrote the Senators to NHTSA Acting Administrator Steven Cliff and NTSB. “The most recent Tesla crash is the latest in a rash of accidents – the 28th – that NHTSA is investigating involving a Tesla car. We fear safety concerns involving these vehicles are becoming a pattern, which is incredibly worrisome and deserves your undivided attention.”
In calling for an in-depth federal investigation, the lawmakers pointed out previous discord surrounding the Tesla Autopilot, writing: “In the past, NHTSA and the NTSB have disagreed over the culpability of Tesla’s Autopilot in fatal crashes. Tesla has also been criticized for misrepresenting the capabilities of their vehicles’ automated driving and driver assistance systems, giving drivers a false sense of security. In addition, previous incidents have raised concerning questions regarding whether Tesla’s Autopilot system has sufficient safeguards to prevent drivers from disengaging from the road. It is therefore imperative that your report determine the exact cause of this latest accident to better inform our laws around advancements in driving technology and prevent future fatal accidents.”
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