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Elon Musk Defends Releasing Information on Fatal Autopilot Death Ahead of NTSB Report

Elon Musk speaks on stage during the Westworld Featured Session during SXSW at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas. FilmMagic for HBO

Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended his company’s decision to release information about a fatal March 23 crash involving one of the automaker’s vehicles that was operating with its Autopilot feature.

Trade blog Tesla Motors Club on Monday tweeted out a link to its story detailing a report from the Washington Post saying that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was “unhappy” with Tesla’s release of the crash’s information. In turn, Musk tweeted back at the Tesla Motors Club account with some thoughts.

“Lot of respect for NTSB, but [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] regulates cars, not NTSB, which is an advisory body,” Musk wrote. “Tesla releases critical crash data affecting public safety immediately & always will. To do otherwise would be unsafe.”

According to the Post, the NTSB didn’t want Tesla releasing specific details while an investigation was ongoing.

“In each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data,” a NTSB spokesman told the Post. “However, the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla.”

Tesla detailed the incident in a post on its blog on March 30. It said that the driver “had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” but no action by the driver was taken, vehicle logs showed, according to Tesla.

“The safety of our customers is our top priority, which is why we are working closely with investigators to understand what happened, and what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future,” Tesla added.