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NTSB: Tesla Driver Was Playing Video Game During Fatal Crash

'If you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2020 12:11 AM CST

(Newser) – The National Transportation Safety Board says the driver of a Tesla SUV who died in a Silicon Valley crash two years ago was playing a video game on his smartphone while his vehicle was being controlled by a partially automated driving system. Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at the start of a hearing Tuesday that systems like Tesla's Autopilot cannot drive themselves, yet drivers continue to use them without paying attention, the AP reports. "If you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car," Sumwalt said in opening statements. "This means that when driving in the supposed 'self-driving' mode, you can’t read a book, you can’t watch a movie or TV show, you can’t text and you can’t play video games."

The March 2018 crash involving a Tesla Model X SUV killed Apple engineer Walter Huang when it swerved and slammed into a concrete barrier dividing freeway and exit lanes in Mountain View, Calif. The car’s forward collision avoidance system didn’t alert Huang, and its automatic emergency braking did not activate, the NTSB said. Also, Huang did not brake, and there was no steering movement detected to avoid the crash, the board’s staff said. NTSB investigators previously found that Tesla's system became confused at a freeway exit and was a factor in the crash. NTSB staff determined that Tesla's system does not adequately make sure drivers are paying attention and recommended that stronger driver monitoring systems be required.

(Read more Tesla stories.)

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