Tesla Says Texas Crash Likely Had Driver, Autopilot Was Off, Seat Belts Unbuckled, According to Joint U.S. Study

Tesla has revealed the early conclusions of a joint study with the NTSB, NHTSA and local police, regarding the Model S crash in Spring, Texas, that media reports erroneously claimed was the result of the company’s Autopilot system.

During Tesla’s Q1 2021 earnings call, a retail investor asked, “does Tesla have any proactive plans to tackle mainstream media’s imminent massive and deceptive clickbait headline campaigns on the safety of Autopilot or Full Self-Driving? Specifically a public relations job of some sort.”

There was some pause before CEO Elon Musk chimed in to say there was an “article regarding the high speed accident in a Tesla, and there was really just extremely deceptive media practices where it was claimed to be Autopilot–but this is just completely false.” Musk added emphatically, “those journalists should be ashamed of themselves,”

Lars Moravy, Tesla Vice President, Vehicle Engineering, then followed to reveal the results of a study over the past week the company had conducted with the NTSB, NHTSA and local police regarding the Texas crash that resulted in two fatalities.

Moravay said “Autosteer did not and could not engage on the road condition as it was designed,” adding “our adaptive cruise control only engaged when the driver was buckled and above 5 miles per hour.”

He continued to note the Tesla Model S “only accelerated to 30 miles per hour with the distance before the car crashed,” while saying “as well, adaptive cruise control disengaged the car slowly to complete to a stop when the driver’s seatbelt was unbuckled.”

These facts counter the early claims the Model S was driving by itself on Autopilot and had no driver in the front seat.

Moravay went on to provide more details, saying, “further investigation into vehicle and accident remains, we inspected the car with NTSB and NHTSA and local police.” He says the “steering wheel was indeed deformed,” meaning there was the “likelihood someone was in driver’s seat at the time of the crash. All seat belts post-crash were found to be unbuckled,” clarified the Tesla executive.

Tesla says it was “unable to recover data from SD card at time of impact, but the local authorities are working on that and we await their report.” Moravay concluded to note Tesla holds “safety in a high regard.”

You can start listening to Musk and Moravay at roughly the 46-minute of the call below:

YouTube video

Shortly after false reports came out that the Model S was on Autopilot, Musk shot back to say the car was not on Autopilot and did not have Full Self-Driving purchased, while also slammed the Wall Street Journal in the process for its lack of fact-checking.