NHTSA Closes Tesla Investigation Without Prompting Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced at a press briefing that Tesla was not to blame for the fatal accident involving a 2015 Model S. The investigation has now been closed.

In May last year Joshua Brown was driving his Tesla on a highway at 74mph with Autopilot engaged, when a truck turned across his path. The car did not brake and passed under the truck, hitting the trailer with the windshield and continuing off the road, through two fences, finally stopping when it hit a power pole.

The agency found no evidence of a defect in either Autopilot or the autonomous emergency braking system and has therefore said that no recall is necessary.

NHTSA’s report states, “A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed. The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that no safety-related defect exists. The agency will monitor the issue and reserves the right to take future action if warranted by the circumstances.”

It also came to light during the investigation that the crash rate of Tesla cars dropped by approximately 40% after Autosteer became available. This is firm validation of the potential safety benefits of ADAS.

In response to the findings Elon Musk wrote, “At Tesla, the safety of our customers comes first, and we appreciate the thoroughness of NHTSA’s report and its conclusion.”

The report can be seen in full here.

Adam Jefferson