NHTSA Expands Tesla Autopilot Probe Related to First Responder Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has widened its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot feature and how it handles emergency vehicles, after previous reports of crashes into first responder vehicles.

The investigation has expanded to roughly 830,000 cars, consisting of the company’s Model S, 3, X and Y line up from 2014 and newer, according to Bloomberg.

The NHTSA says Tesla vehicles under investigation have seen 14 crashes, causing 15 injuries and one death.

The preliminary investigation has been “upgraded to an Engineering Analysis (EA) to extend the existing crash analysis, evaluate additional data sets, perform vehicle evaluations, and to explore the degree to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision,” explained the NHTSA.

The government agency plans to “continue its assessment of vehicle control authority, driver engagement technologies, and related human factors considerations.”

“A driver’s use or misuse of vehicle components, or operation of a vehicle in an unintended manner does not necessarily preclude a system defect,” explained the NHTSA.

The NHTSA continues to look into Tesla vehicles, as last week the agency launched an investigation into “phantom braking”; no injuries have been reported related to that area of concern.

Tesla is able to react quickly to regulator safety concerns by issuing over-the-air updates to its owner vehicles.