Skip to main content

Tesla under scrutiny again over fatal crash on Autopilot

Tesla is under scrutiny again over a fatal crash on Autopilot in 2018. ​The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that it is holding a public hearing tomorrow to “determine the probable cause of the fatal crash.”

On March 23, 2018, a Model X hit the median barrier on highway 101 in Mountain View, California, and it quickly caught on fire before being hit by two other cars.

The driver was taken to the hospital, but he unfortunately died of his injuries.

The NTSB quickly announced an investigation into the incident. At first, the investigation was apparently revolving around the fire and how to handle electric car fires after crashes, but the situation later changed.

After reviewing the data logs of the vehicle, Tesla issued a statement confirming that the Model X was on Autopilot, and it released an explanation of the last moments before the impact.

Following the statement, the NTSB said that it was “unhappy” about Tesla releasing its interpretation of the data, and it would now also look into the role of Autopilot in the accident.

At the time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hit back at NTSB’s critique of Tesla releasing data of fatal Autopilot accident.

Now almost two years later, the National Transportation Safety Board announced “its intention to hold a board meeting February 25, 2020, 9:30 a.m. (EST), to determine the probable cause of the fatal crash of a Tesla in Mountain View, California.”

NTSB wrote in a press release:

WHO:      NTSB investigative staff and board members.

WHAT:    An open to the public board meeting.

WHERE:  NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center, 420 10th St., SW, Washington, DC.

WHEN:    Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, 9:30 a.m. (EST).

Tesla has apparently not been very cooperative with the NTSB so far.

On top of Musk’s response defying the agency, the NTSB says that the company has also not replied to safety recommendations that they made after investigating a previous crash.

However, NTSB spokesman Chris O’Neil told Bloomberg that they have been in contact with the company:

That doesn’t replace the need for formal responses to safety recommendations. It’s a process designed to help us understand what they’re doing to implement those safety recommendations and what their progress toward them are, which may inform whether we feel other recommendations are necessary.

Previously released phone data about the accident also showed that the driver was playing a game on his phone around the time of the crash — though it’s unknown how engaged he was with the game, or if he was even holding the phone.

Tesla’s involvement in the new public hearing is not clear at this point.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.



Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

Fred is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Electrek.

You can send tips on Twitter (DMs open) or via email:

Through, you can check out Fred’s portfolio and get monthly green stock investment ideas.