Tesla Model 3: Autopilot engaged during fatal crash

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Tesla Model 3 after crashImage source, NTSB
Image caption,
The Tesla Model 3 after the crash

A preliminary report into a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model 3 in the US has found Autopilot had been engaged 10 seconds before the crash.

The Tesla was travelling above the speed limit when it crashed into a truck towing a trailer in March 2019.

The roof of the car was sheared off in the accident and the driver was killed.

According to the report, the driver did not appear to have his hands on the wheel and neither he nor the Autopilot took any evasive action.

The investigation into the accident, which happened on a highway in Delray Beach, Florida, is being carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Tesla said it was the only time during the journey that Autopilot had been activated.

"Tesla drivers have logged more than one billion miles with Autopilot engaged, and our data shows that, when used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times, drivers supported by Autopilot are safer than those operating without assistance," said the firm in a statement.

Tesla does not recommend that drivers remove their hands from the wheel when using the vehicle's Autopilot feature.

Media caption,

Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained how the system worked during its unveiling in October 2014

On 23 March 2019, a Tesla Model X crashed into a roadside barrier and caught fire while on Autopilot, which also resulted in the death of the driver.

On that occasion Tesla did not reveal whether Autopilot had spotted the barrier.

In May 2016 another driver of a Tesla car died when his car failed to spot a lorry crossing its path.

The driver was found to have used Autopilot for 37 minutes but only had his hands on the wheel for 25 seconds.