Government investigation finds Tesla FSD was indeed engaged during the Bay Bridge pileup
The sudden Tesla Model S braking in the fast lane of San Francisco's Bay Bridge tunnel that caused an 8-vehicle pileup over Thanksgiving may have indeed be caused by Tesla's autonomous driving system. The NHTSA initiated a special crash investigation into the accident and the government agency has released its findings, confirming the driver's claim that Tesla's Full Self-Driving Beta (FSD) system was engaged at the time of the crash and may have actually caused the accident.
The Model S decided to merge into the fast lane, turning a left blinker on, then moved there and started sudden deceleration to a speed of 7 mph as if being pulled over, causing vehicles behind it to bump or crash into each other. The Tesla itself escaped relatively unscathed, as well as the driver, but some of the vehicles coming behind it couldn't react in the fast lane on time and slammed into the last cars in the pileup at significant speed. Some observers argued that a recently installed warning light at the beginning of the tunnel may have been mistaken for a traffic light, while subsequent media efforts to recreate the FSD confusion at the exact same place didn't pan out.
"Hundreds of data elements relevant to the vehicle, occupants, injury mechanisms, roadway, and safety systems are collected for each of the over 100 crashes designated for study annually," says the NHTSA, and it remains to be seen what will occur from the findings about Tesla's Thanksgiving pileup given that the FSD system engagement has now been officially confirmed. Both the NHTSA and the federal government have launched public investigations into Tesla's autonomous driving systems for reasons as varied as traffic safety or deceptive Autopilot marketing.
This week's reveal of a testimony by a Tesla engineer that some of the first Autopilot promo videos had staged footage of capabilities not present in the system at the time, or the NHTSA looking into a recent Elon Musk tweet that Tesla may limit the steering wheel hold warnings, aren't helping the automaker's cause, too.
Here’s the @KTVU evening news covering the simulated @Tesla FSD/AP drive we took @BrooksKTVU on this morning across the SF Bay Bridge to dive deeper into what sadly transpired on Thanksgiving 2022. ????: It’s on all of us as drivers to be attentive. pic.twitter.com/gwGnuVq7b6— Tesla East Bay Fremont (@TeslaOwnersEBay) January 14, 2023