Tesla in Autopilot Mode Accelerated Prior to Crash With Fire Truck, Police Say
A Tesla in Autopilot mode that plowed into a stopped fire truck in Utah earlier this month accelerated immediately before the crash, according to a police report obtained by the Associated Press.
Based on car data, police believe that the May 11 crash in South Jordan, Utah, occurred shortly after the Tesla Model S matched the speed of a vehicle in front that was traveling at 55 mph. When that vehicle switched lanes, the Tesla automatically accelerated to its preset speed of 60 mph, neglecting to detect a group of stopped vehicles ahead, police say.
Although the vehicle’s driver, Heather Lommatzsch, 29, tried to brake manually at the last second, it was not enough to prevent the car from rear-ending the fire truck. Lommatzsch, who according to car data did not touch the steering wheel for more than a minute before the crash, suffered a broken ankle. The fire truck driver sustained whiplash injuries, but opted not to go to a hospital.
Just three days after the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted his disdain for the media’s coverage, stating that, “It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage[.]”
The crash comes in the wake of several other incidents in which Tesla’s Autopilot has been investigated as the culprit. In March, a Tesla Model X driver was killed when his vehicle, which had Autopilot mode engaged, crashed into a California freeway barrier. Earlier this month, two 18-year-olds died in Florida after the Tesla Model S they were riding in crashed into a wall and caught on fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the incident, but does not suspect the vehicle’s Autopilot mode to be the focus.