The US federal vehicle safety watchdog is dispatching investigators to probe yet another Tesla crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that it sent a Special Crash Investigations team to probe a collision that killed two people along Interstate 75 in Florida. on Wednesday, when the car hit the back of a semi-trailer at a rest area near Gainesville.
The agency would not divulge if the Tesla was using partially automated driving technology.
The 2015 model year Tesla was traveling on Interstate 75 about 2 p.m. Wednesday when, for an unknown reason, it careened into a rest area. It then traveled into the parking lot and struck the back of a parked Walmart Freightliner tractor-trailer, according to a Florida Highway Patrol press release.
The driver and passenger, both from Lompoc, California, were pronounced dead at the scene. The two who died were a 66-year-old woman and a 67-year-old man, according to a local outlet.
The car rear-ended the tractor-trailer, a CBS affiliate reported.
Highway Patrol Lt. P.V. Riordan said Friday in an email that his agency will determine whether any partially automated features were in use.
“That is a consideration that will be explored during our investigation,” he said.
NHTSA is probing 37 crashes involving automated driving systems since 2016. Of the incidents, 30 involved Teslas, including 11 fatal crashes that have killed 15.
The agency also said in documents that it’s investigating a fatal pedestrian crash earlier in July in California that involved a Tesla Model 3. It also sent a team to probe a Cruise automated vehicle crash in California that caused a minor injury in June.
NHTSA also has been investigating Teslas on Autopilot crashing into parked emergency vehicles. In a separate probe, the agency is looking at Teslas on Autopilot braking for no apparent reason.
Last week, new NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff told The Associated Press that the agency is escalating efforts aimed at understanding the risks posed by automated vehicle technology so it can determine what rules may be necessary to protect drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
He also noted that automated systems like automatic emergency braking present a potential to save lives.
With Post wires
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