Police to search Tesla after vehicle crash that killed two people

April 20, 2021

Police in Texas will serve search warrants on Tesla after a vehicle crash which killed two people.

A Tesla 2019 Model S was being driven at high speed near Houston on Saturday night when it left the road, hit a tree and burst into flames, police said.

The bodies of two men were found inside the vehicle - one in the front passenger seat and one in the back seat, prompting police to say nobody was in the driver's seat at the time of the crash.

But a tweet by Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has insisted that the car's Autopilot was not engaged.

He said: "Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD (full self-driving).

"...Standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have."

Mark Herman, Harris County Constable Precinct 4, said this was the first officials had heard from the company, telling Reuters news agency: "If he is tweeting that out, if he has already pulled the data, he hasn't told us that.

"We will eagerly wait for that data.

"We have witness statements from people that said they (one of the crash victims) left to test drive the vehicle without a driver and to show the friend how it can drive itself."

Autopilot is Tesla's partially-automated driving system, which can keep a car centred in its lane, keep a distance from other cars and even change lanes in some circumstances.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is investigating the crash, said last month that it had opened 27 special investigations into Tesla crashes.

Twenty-three of these are still active and are believed to have involved use of Autopilot.

The watchdog, which can regulate carmakers and seek recalls for defective vehicles, has so far been reluctant to regulate automated systems.

But last month it said: "With a new administration in place, we're reviewing regulations around autonomous vehicles".

Tesla did not comment but it has previously said drivers should keep their hands on the steering wheel and pay attention while using Autopilot.

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