The U.S. auto safety regulators have opened a new special crash investigation into a fatal accident in California involving a 2018 Tesla Model 3 sedan.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday said that it suspects the possible involvement of the electric car’s advanced driver-assist systems known as “Autopilot” around the time of the crash.
On July 5th, the Tesla Model 3 and a Subaru Impreza were involved in a head-on collision in South Lake Tahoe, California, which killed the driver of the car in the accident. It also fatally injured a three-month-old passenger in the Tesla who died several days later from injuries suffered in the crash, the California Highway Patrol said.
Ever since Tesla has been launched in 2016, the NHTSA has opened more than three dozen special crash investigations against the Autopilot, which involves more than 20 deaths from the crashes, reports Reuters.
Tesla promotes Autopilot as a safety feature on its website, and states: “Autopilot advanced safety and convenience features are designed to assist you with the most burdensome parts of driving. Autopilot introduces new features and improves existing functionality to make your Tesla safer and more capable over time.”
In the latest case, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson said that “there are no charges pending at this time. Vehicle and car seat inspections are currently being done.”
While the results of the NHTSA’s investigation into the recent California crash are unknown at this point in time, the agency said it would “take appropriate action” if ADAS systems are found involved in the crash.
This is the first new special crash investigation open since March. Prior to that, in February, the NHTSA had announced another special investigation into an accident involving a 2014 Tesla Model S that crashed into a fire truck in Contra Costa County, California, where the driver of the Tesla was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other investigation in March involves a 2022 Tesla Model Y that seriously injured a 17-year-old student who got off a school bus in North Carolina.
In December 2022, the NHTSA opened two new special crash investigations into Tesla vehicles where advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) systems were suspected of being engaged in the crash.
More than 100 special crash investigations are opened by the NHTSA every year to look into developing technologies, like ADAS systems and other probable auto safety issues.