Second Crash Reported Involving Tesla Vehicle Operating In Autopilot

Image courtesy of Atwater Village Newbie

UPDATE: Tesla is now claiming that, counter to police accounts of the incident, the autopilot mode may not have been engaged at the time of the crash.

Less than a week after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an inquiry into the fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle operating in its semi-autonomous “autopilot” mode, a second self-driving Tesla has reportedly been involved in a crash.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the driver — or rather the person in the driver’s seat — and the passenger of the Model X both survived the crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Friday.

Officials with the Pennsylvania State Police say the man told them that the crash, which happened about 107 miles from Pittsburgh, occurred after the driver activated the Autopilot feature.

According to the crash report, the car hit a guard rail “off the right side of the roadway. It then crossed over the eastbound lanes and hit the concrete median” shortly after 5 p.m.

After striking the guard rail the Model X rolled onto its roof and came to rest in the middle eastbound lane.

While neither the driver, his passenger, or others on the road were hurt in the crash, debris from the Model X did strike another vehicle.

Dale Vukovich of the Pennsylvania State Police tells the Free Press that he will likely cite the Tesla driver, but declined to specify what the charges would be.

Vukovich goes on to note that there is not enough evidence to indicate that the autopilot feature malfunctioned.

The crash occurred just one day after Tesla revealed that an earlier fatal collision in Florida had involved a Tesla that was in autopilot mode at the time.

That crash, which occurred in May, took place on a divided highway. The 2015 Tesla Model S collided with a tractor-trailer that was making a left turn across the Tesla driver’s lane.

Neither the driver nor the autopilot system saw the tractor-trailer, a problem that Tesla blames on the combination of a “brightly lit sky” and the reflective surface of the trailer.

The car drove under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer hitting the windshield, then shearing off the car’s roof. The Tesla kept driving and stopped about 100 feet away from the road past the tractor-trailer.

NHTSA is investigating the crash after Tesla reported it since the car was in partially autonomous mode at the time.

“The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation will examine the design and performance of the automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash,” the agency said in a statement. “During the Preliminary Evaluation, NHTSA will gather additional data regarding this incident and other information regarding the automated driving systems.”

Southfield art gallery owner survives Tesla crash [Detroit Free Press]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.