Driver Killed In Tesla Accident Ignored Automated Warnings To Pay Attention

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A man who was killed when his Tesla slammed into a truck last year ignored seven automated signals warning him to take control of the steering wheel, according to a government report.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported Tuesday on the deadly crash and found that Joshua Brown had his hands on the wheel of his Tesla Model S for 25 seconds during a nearly 40-minute car ride. He was using the vehicle’s auto-feature during the wreck.

An NTSB investigation from earlier this year determined that the auto-feature was not the cause of the wreck. Tesla has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the potential causes for the wreck.

Brown was killed last year after his Tesla Model S caromed into a tractor-trailer on the highway. Investigators have not determined the cause of the wreck, but eyewitness reports indicate Brown was watching a “Harry Potter” movie at the time of the accident.

His death sparked discussion about the safety of Tesla’s auto-feature.

“The expectation of Tesla is that the driver is alert and vigilant, ready to take over at a moment’s notice,” Ryan Eustice, a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, told reporters in May shortly after Brown’s death. Drivers become bored and place too much trust in auto-driving features, he added.

Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, who devoted his career to studying semi-autonomous technology like Tesla uses, echoed Eustice’s sentiments, telling reporters that Tesla owners will likely have to decide between safety and convenience.

Tesla and federal regulators were criticized for tabling reports of the wreck until months later. The Silicon Valley company said it “immediately” notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after Brown’s death, in a statement last year. NHTSA chose to sit on the information until announcing in late June.

Less than two weeks after Brown died, Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold more than $2 billion of Tesla stock in a public offering at a price of $215 per share — the electric vehicle company did all of this without notifying its shareholders or the public about the wreck.

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