Tesla is facing a new lawsuit involving its Autopilot feature, which is cited as the cause of a fatal accident involving a Model 3 driver and a semi-truck.
The accident apparently happened on March 1st when a Model 3 Tesla set on Autopilot crashed on the side of a truck that was crossing the highway in Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.
The accident is very similar to the one that took the life of Model S driver Joshua Brown back in May of 2016, when, while on Autopilot, both the car and Brown failed to see the a trucks trailer cross the highway. Much in the same way as this 2019 accident, the car went under the trailer while Autopilot continued to drive for a while longer before finally stopping.
Back then, the federal investigation the accident set in motion decided that the cars Autopilot system was not defective and the investigation did not issue for a recall.
The latest accident claimed the life of 50-year old Jeremy Banner and is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
According to their report, as the Tesla vehicle “approached the private driveway, the combination vehicle pulled from the driveway and traveled east across the southbound lanes of US 441. The truck driver was trying to cross the highway’s southbound lanes and turn left into the northbound lanes. According to surveillance video in the area and forward-facing video from the Tesla, the combination vehicle slowed as it crossed the southbound lanes, blocking the Tesla’s path.”
The Tesla drove right into the left side of the semi-trailer and its roof was sheared off as the car kept driving and continued south from under the trailer then it “came to a rest on the median, about 1,600 feet from where it struck the semi-trailer. The 50-year-old male Tesla driver died as a result of the crash. The 45-year-old male driver of the combination vehicle was uninjured.”
According to the preliminary findings of the NTSB, Autopilot had been turned on about 10 seconds before the crash occurred and that the vehicle “did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel” 8 seconds before the crash and the time of impact. However, that might also mean that Banner had his hands on the steering wheel but the Autopilot simply did not detect them – Autopilot users are advised after all, to apply pressure to the steering wheel.
Teslas account of the crash also stated that the cars data logs showed that Banner removed his hands from the wheel as soon as Autopilot was turned on, which comes in direct violation of the company’s Autopilot instructions on how to use it.
The family of the man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla stating that the “crash was the result of a defective autopilot system.”