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Federal agencies investigate if Tesla driver killed in crash was on Autopilot


On May 5, Tesla driver Steven Michael Hendrickson was killed after his Model 3 hit an overturned semi-truck on the 210 Freeway, near Fontana, California. The truck driver and a person who was helping him suffered injuries in the same accident. State authorities say that the car may have been in the Autopilot mode of driving. The driver had shared two videos on social media of riding in his car without his hands on the wheel. His foot was also not on the pedal.


According to a report by the highway patrol, the Mack truck had overturned about five minutes before the Tesla crashed into it. The truck was blocking two lanes on the 210 Freeway after it had overturned. A Good Samaritan, who was helping the truck driver out of his overturned vehicle, was also hit by the Tesla.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the recent incident. The NTSB chairman, Robert Sumwalt has urged the Biden government to bring in stricter regulations on driver-assist systems including Autopilot and for testing autonomous vehicles.


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The federal agency said that it had commented about the Fontana crash as it had created a lot of interest about the numerous Tesla crashes and to inform the public that driving is not a simple task and it requires total attention from a vehicle’s driver.


In the recent past, other drivers who used the Autopilot have also crashed into stationary objects. Last month, on April 17, a high end Tesla, Model S, had crashed into a tree in a tony neighborhood in Houston. It had burst into flames and the battery had continued to burn for hours. The crash killed a doctor, Dr. William Berner and his friend, Everette Talbot. The body of one person was found in the front passenger seat, while the other one was in the back seat, according to police reports.


Tesla had removed its public relations department quite a while ago. So, there was no response from the company when news agencies asked for comment.


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