The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is understood to be investigating two incidents involving Tesla vehicles, both of which resulted in fatalities. Although there have been plenty of incidents of Tesla crashes in recent years, a crash involving a Tesla often seems to attract more headlines due to the tech-based nature of the vehicles. From its perspective, Tesla often cites safety as one of its major selling points, with third-party data and reports often backing up those claims.
Earlier this year, Tesla released its 2021 Impact Report. One of the main takeaways from the report was data that suggested Teslas were less likely to be involved in a crash when the company’s Autopilot was enabled. Furthermore, the data seemed to suggest that the likelihood of a crash when Autopilot was disabled was also less than the national average. The common theme being just how safe Teslas are.
According to Reuters, the NHTSA has now opened a special investigation into an incident that happened in California. The vehicle involved was a 2018 Model 3 and it’s believed that Tesla’s driver-assist software was in use at the time. It is also being reported that a separate incident that happened this month in Florida is now under investigation after both the driver and the passenger of the 2015 Tesla were killed. Unlike the California incident, however, there’s no clear indication of whether Autopilot was enabled or disabled at the time of the Florida crash. The Reuters report noted that the NHTSA is “in discussions with Tesla” over the incident, but The Verge has since reported that the Florida crash is now under investigation.
The California crash is the latest being investigated as part of a wider probe of incidents related to advanced driver-assistance systems, according to Reuters. Tesla vehicles are often credited with their intelligence and advancements, but the technology is still very much in an early state. So much so that Tesla itself is usually quick to point out that drivers need to be extra aware when enabling any features. A report from last month stated that of 392 advanced driver-assistance system-related crashes between July 2021 and June 2022, 273 of them involved Teslas. The report also noted that five of the six deaths related to the incidents also involved Teslas. Of course, more data tends to be available for Tesla vehicles, and the company does sell its EVs in greater numbers than other EV-makers, so the chance of an incident occurring and being reported on quickly is higher.
At present, Tesla offers three levels of driver-assist software. At the entry-level, there’s Autopilot which comes as standard on all new Tesla vehicles. For an additional $6,000, consumers can upgrade Autopilot to the newer Enhanced Autopilot. Alternatively, there’s the option to pay an additional $12,000 to upgrade Tesla’s standard Autopilot to Full Self-Driving Capability.