By TOM KRISHER | AP Auto Writer
The U.S. government’s highway safety agency said Thursday it will send teams to investigate two November crashes in California and Ohio involving Teslas that may have been operating on automated driving systems.
The probes bring to 35 the number of crashes investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2016 in which either Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” or “Autopilot” systems likely were in use. Nineteen people were killed in the crashes.
The California crash occurred on Thanksgiving Day involving eight vehicles on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The driver told authorities that the Tesla Model S was using the company’s “Full Self-Driving” software, according to Highway Patrol report obtained by CNN.
The Ohio crash happened Nov. 18 near Toledo, when a Tesla Model 3 crashed into an Ohio Highway Patrol SUV stopped on a roadway with its emergency lights flashing.
A message was left Thursday seeking comment from Tesla on the latest NHTSA action. The company based in Austin, Texas, has disbanded its media relations department.
The agency said Thursday that it sent the team to the California crash after gathering information from law enforcement officers and Tesla.
The eight-vehicle crash happened about noon, closing two lanes and clogging traffic on the holiday. Nine people were treated for minor injuries including a child who was hospitalized, according to CNN, which got a copy of the crash report through a public records request.
The Tesla Model S driver reportedly told the California Highway Patrol that the company’s “Full Self-Driving” system was operating when the crash occurred, and that it braked unexpectedly while traveling at 55 miles per hour (88.5 kilometers per hour). The Model S shifted into the far left lane, then braked to 20 mph, causing the pileup, CNN said the report stated.
In the crash near Toledo, an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper and another motorist were injured when a Tesla Model 3 struck the rear of the police SUV parked on a road with its emergency lights flashing.
The Toledo Blade reported that the highway patrol report didn’t address whether any automated systems were operating.