On Thursday (Aug. 10), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it had opened a special crash investigation into the death of a 57-year old Tesla owner in Virginia, who fatally crashed into a semi truck on July 19 when attempting to merge onto the highway.
Tesla was not immediately available for comment on the investigation.
The EV manufacturer’s website says that “current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” However, during a 2016 interview, Musk claimed that when engaged in autopilot mode Teslas could “drive autonomously with greater safety than a person, right now.”
830,000: Number of Tesla’s equipped with Autopilot mode since 2014, according to an NHTSA estimate.
$15,000: Additional cost of the self-driving feature for Tesla owners.
736: Number of crashes involving Autopilot Mode since 2019, including 17 deaths, per a recent Washington Post investigation.
The most recent probe comes just weeks after US regulators announced they were investigating a deadly car crash in California—by a Tesla also suspected of being in autopilot mode—that resulted in two deaths, including that of a three-month-old baby.
In fact, the NHTSA has opened at least 36 investigations into Tesla’s self-driving systems since 2016. The regulatory agency is also involved in a separate ongoing probe of 830,000 vehicles utilizing Tesla model’s autopilot mode.
Additionally, the NHTSA announced Tesla would recall 362,000 cars last February, over concerns that the autopilot could cause deadly crashes.