Tesla’s Autopilot Involvement Suspected in CA Fire Truck Crash
Written by Simon Alvarez, Teslarati
Published March 9, 2023
A 2014 Tesla Model S is suspected to have been operating in Autopilot during a fatal crash in February in California, according to investigators.
The collision occurred when the all-electric sedan struck a fire truck, resulting in the driver’s death and critical injuries to a passenger.
On March 8, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it dispatched a specialized crash investigation team to probe the Feb. 18 crash, after which emergency responders had to cut open the Tesla to extricate a passenger. The crash also resulted in minor injuries to four Contra Costa County firefighters.
The NHTSA’s inquiry into the fatal crash is part of a broader investigation by the agency, looking into multiple incidents involving Teslas in Autopilot colliding with stationary emergency vehicles attending to other accidents, as noted in a report from the Associated Press.
Officials said during the Feb. 18 incident, the fire truck was parked at a diagonal angle with its lights on in the northbound lanes of the freeway, to safeguard first responders responding to a previous accident. At about 4 a.m., the 2014 Tesla Model S crashed into the fire truck. The car’s driver was declared dead at the scene.
The collision between the Model S and the fire truck was severe. Per the AP, it took several hours to clear the freeway, and the fire truck had to be towed away.
Tesla started rolling out its Autopilot driver-assist system in vehicles produced after September 2014. This means if the Model S involved in the California crash was produced prior to September 2014, it would not have Autopilot capabilities.