Mountain View Tesla Crash

Mountain View Tesla Crash (Photo credit: Yao Ko)

NTSB: Driver In Tesla Crash Had Hands Off Wheel

Driver Died In March Crash

KCBS Radio Morning News
June 07, 2018 - 9:42 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on a March crash in Mountain View that killed a Tesla Model X driver says he had his hands off the wheel for six seconds before the crash.

The NTSB's preliminary report, released Thursday, uses information downloaded from the vehicle's data-storage system. The agency reports the Moxel X P100D was operating in Tesla's "Autopilot" mode on the morning of March 23 when it veered from the HOV lane on southbound U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View and struck a crash attenuator  located at the end of a concrete median barrier.

The NTSB report includes the following findings:

  • The Autopilot system was engaged on four separate occasions during the 32-minute trip, including a continuous operation for the last 18 minutes 55 seconds prior to the crash. 
  • During the 18-minute 55-second segment, the vehicle provided two visual alerts and one auditory alert for the driver to place his hands on the steering wheel. These alerts were made more than 15 minutes prior to the crash.
  • During the 60 seconds prior to the crash, the driver’s hands were detected on the steering wheel on three separate occasions, for a total of 34 seconds; for the last 6 seconds prior to the crash, the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering wheel.

The vehicle's driver, Walter Huang, 38, died later at the hospital. The Tesla caught fire at the scene and subsequently re-ignited several times before technicians removed its battery and electrical compoents.