US car safety regulators are investigating a fatal crash between a Tesla Model 3, suspected of having been in a self-driving mode at the time, and a 2013 Subaru Impreza. The collision happened on July 5 in South Lake Tahoe, California. Two people died, the driver of the Subaru and a three-month-old baby in the Tesla.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the opening of the special crash investigation (SCI) on Tuesday (July 18).
The incident adds to a growing list of probes into Tesla crashes involving its self-driving systems. The NHTSA has opened over 36 such probes since 2016, according to a Reuters report, in which at least 22 people have died in collisions.
Quartz contacted Tesla for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
“Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” Tesla states on its website. Another Tesla automated driving system, called “Full Self-Driving,” also requires a person in the driver’s seat, though the company states “no action is required” for them to operate the vehicle.
Meanwhile, the NHTSA is also expecting responses and data from Tesla today (July 19) related to a separate probe into 830,000 of its vehicles and its Autopilot system.
It is not the first time this year that Tesla’s technology has come under NHTSA scrutiny. The agency opened two other investigations into Tesla crashes suspected of involving self-driving systems in March.
In one incident, a driver of a 2014 Tesla Model S struck a fire truck on an interstate highway in California in February. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while a passenger and four firefighters were injured. Tesla has since disclosed to the NHTSA that the car was using an automated driving system at the time, according to an ABC News report.
The other incident involved a 2022 Tesla Model Y that struck a 17-year-old student getting off a bus in North Carolina in March, causing serious injuries. The car was allegedly in Autopilot mode at the time.
The NHTSA issued a recall of over 360,000 Teslas in the US in February over concerns that its Full Self-Driving software might cause collisions.