A driver tells police his ‘fully self-driving’ Tesla caused an eight-car crash


A driver told authorities that Tesla’s “full self-driving” software braked unexpectedly and caused an eight-car pileup in the San Francisco Bay Area last month that left nine people hospitalized for minor injuries, including a minor who was hospitalized, according to with in a California Highway Patrol traffic accident report.

CNN Business obtained the report detailing the crash through a public records request Wednesday. The California Highway Patrol reviewed video footage showing the Tesla vehicle changing lanes and slowing to a stop.

The California Highway Patrol said in the Dec. 7 report that it could not confirm whether “full self-driving” was active at the time of the crash. A highway patrol spokesman told CNN Business on Wednesday that it would not determine whether “full self-driving” was active and Tesla would have that information.

The crash happened around lunchtime on Thanksgiving Day, snarling traffic on Interstate 80 east of the Bay Bridge as two lanes of traffic were closed for about 90 minutes as many people traveled for the holiday. Four ambulances were called to the scene.

The build-up happened a few hours later Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s “full self-driving” driver assistance software was available to anyone in North America who requested it. Tesla has previously restricted access to drivers with high safety scores in its rating system.
“Full self-driving” is designed to monitor traffic, drive in the lane and obey traffic signals. It requires an attentive driver, ready to take full control of the car at all times. It pleases some drivers, but worries others with its limitations. Drivers warned by Tesla when installing ‘full self-driving’ that “he may do the wrong thing at the worst time.”

The report says the Tesla Model S was traveling about 55 mph and swerved into the left lane, but then braked sharply, slowing the car to about 20 mph. This led to a chain reaction in which eight vehicles, all traveling at standard highway speeds, eventually crashed.

Tesla’s driver assistance technologies, Autopilot and “full self-driving” are already being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after reports of unexpected braking that occurs “without warning, randomly and often repeatedly in a single drive.”

The service has received hundreds of complaints from Tesla drivers. Some have described near misses and concerns for their safety. This summer NHTSA upgraded the investigation to what it calls an engineering analysis, a sign that it is seriously considering a recall.

NHTSA told CNN Business days after the Thanksgiving crash that it was gathering additional information from Tesla and law enforcement about the crash.

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