The NTSB said Tesla's Autopilot and an inattentive driver were likely factors in a fatal 2018 crash

KTVU via Associated PressThe 2018 crash that killed Walter Huang.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board said both Tesla’s Autopilot system and an inattentive driver played a role in a fatal 2018 crash, The Verge reported.
  • The NTSB held a hearing about the incident on Tuesday after a 23-month investigation.
  • The 2018 incident raised questions about how Tesla has marketed Autopilot, and whether drivers are capable of using it responsibly.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that Tesla‘s Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system and the inattention of driver Walter Huang were likely factors in Huang’s fatal 2018 crash in Mountain View, California, The Verge reported.

Huang had too much confidence in Autopilot, which was activated at the time of the crash, and had been playing a game on his phone before his Model X SUV hit a broken crash attenuator, the NTSB concluded, according to The Verge’s report. The agency reportedly said that if the attenuator had been replaced, Huang would likely have survived.

The NTSB held a hearing about the accident on Tuesday following a 23-month investigation. The agency clashed with Tesla in 2018 over the electric-car maker’s decision to reveal information about the crash on its blog.

Autopilot can control steering, acceleration, and braking in some situations, but requires the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention to the road at all times. The 2018 incident highlighted questions that have been raised about whether Tesla has been too aggressive in marketing Autopilot, and whether drivers are capable of paying sufficient attention to the road while using the feature.

Tesla has argued that, overall, Autopilot makes drivers safer,pointing to data that shows a lower rate of crashes in Tesla vehicles using Autopilot than in all vehicles in the US. But that data doesn’t account for the fact that Autopilot is designed for use only during highway driving, something that by itself could result in fewer accidents.

Over 90% of respondents in a 2019 Bloomberg survey of 5,000 Model 3 sedan owners said they believed Autopilot made them safer.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An NTSB representative directed Business Insider to the agency’s Twitter account. At the time of publication, the account had not yet published an update regarding the agency’s conclusions about the 2018 crash.

Read The Verge’s full story here.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at [email protected]. You can also reach out on Signal at 646-768-4712 or email this reporter’s encrypted address at [email protected].

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