Elderly Florida couple killed after their Tesla crashes into semi in 37th crash for company
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: A couple from Lompoc in California were killed when the Tesla car they were traveling in crashed into the back of a Walmart semi-truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the crash, which happened just before 2 pm on Wednesday, July 6, in the parking lot of the Paynes Prairie rest area.
As per the reports by DailyMail, safety officials have opened the 37th probe into a Tesla crash after a California couple, aged 66 and 67, was killed in the crash. The images from the crash indicate the front end of a red Tesla, which is a 2015 S model, crashed into the back of a Walmart semi-truck while the couple was driving on Interstate-75 southbound. The victims were declared dead at the scene.
Highway Patrol Lt PV Riordan told the portal that the authorities are looking into whether the automated features were involved in the crash. The report further suggests that previous autopilot-related crashes were linked to the Teslas' cameras being confused by flashing lights and reflectors on stopped emergency vehicles.
The 2015 Teslas were the first to use this technology, however, didn't include fully automated features. Tesla also wrote in a blog that "the driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car."
The ongoing investigation
Earlier in June, the NHTSA escalated its defect investigation into 830,000 Tesla (TSLA.O) vehicles equipped with Autopilot, a necessary step before requesting a recall. While Tesla did not reply to a request for comment, the NHTSA informed Reuters it was aware of "and in conversations with Tesla" about the Florida tragedy.
After nearly a dozen incidents in which Tesla vehicles collided with stopped emergency vehicles, the NHTSA launched a preliminary study of the system in 765,000 vehicles and said last month that it had detected six further crashes. Since 2016, the NHTSA has started 35 special collision investigations involving Tesla vehicles in which advanced driver assistance technologies such as Autopilot were suspected of being used.
A recent statement by the administrator of NHTSA Steven Cliff to Reuters recorded him saying that he wants to complete the agency's investigation into Tesla's advanced driver assistance system Autopilot "as quickly as we possibly can but I also want to get it right. There's a lot of information that we need to comb through."