In July, two fatal motorcycle accidents involving Tesla cars were reported in the US, one in California and the other in Utah. In both cases, the electric cars were driven on the highway under the control of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
According to reports, in the first case, a Tesla Model Y 2021 hit a motorcyclist on the Riverside freeway in California. In the second accident, a Tesla car crashed into a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle from behind, the rider was thrown from the saddle and died on the spot. The driver of the 2020 Tesla Model 3 told police that the autopilot function was engaged at the time of impact. No charges have been filed yet, and the incident is under investigation.
According to the NHTSA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are currently 48 investigations into accidents involving ADAS-operated vehicles, 39 of which involved Tesla cars. Because the accidents involve a possible Tesla Autopilot failure, the case is being handled by the NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ODI Defects Investigation Office. This is the second ODI criminal case in July in which a motorcyclist was killed.
Tesla reports that the current ADAS on its cars is not fully autonomous, and drivers should not rely solely on autopilot for safe driving – all Tesla manuals say so. Tesla’s autopilot support page says:
“Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that improves safety and convenience while driving. The driver must have his or her hands on the steering wheel and must be ready to take control at any moment. These features do not make the car autonomous.”