The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new details regarding the fatal crash that took place in Harris County, Texas in April, indicating that the accelerator pedal was applied at levels as high as 98.8 percent at the time of the accident. The crash killed two, a 59-year-old and a 69-year-old.
Media outlets quickly jumped to the conclusion that Tesla Autopilot was responsible for the crash. However, on May 10th, the NTSB cleared Autosteer, a feature of Tesla Autopilot, of being available in the location where the crash occurred. Since then, investigations on the crash have continued, and the NTSB states that the accident is still being examined for further evidence of what caused the accident.
In a new statement released today, the NTSB announced that it had continued to evaluate the deformation of the Model S steering wheel and the vehicle’s event data recorder, or EDR, and also extracted critical pre-crash data from it.
Upon examination, the steering wheel was damaged and deformed in the accident. “The steering wheel was removed and transported to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for detailed examination. Initial results indicate that although some damage was caused by the intense heat of the postcrash fire, deformation along the top and left side of the steering wheel’s outer rim…was due to an impact,” the NTSB added.
The EDR showed that both the driver and passenger seats were occupied at the time of the crash. Additionally, seat belts were buckled when the crash occurred. The data shows that the driver of the vehicle was applying the accelerator in excessive amounts leading up to the crash. “Application of the accelerator pedal was found to be as high as 98.8 percent,” the NTSB said in their findings. The highest recorded speed in the five seconds leading up to the impact was 67 miles per hour. The area where the crash occurred is residential, and Texas State laws have default speed limits of 30 MPH in residential streets.
The NTSB states that their investigation of the accident is not complete. It is important to note that the NTSB has not determined the exact cause of the accident yet. “The information in this update is preliminary and subject to change as the NTSB investigation progresses. Analysis of the crash facts, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause, will come when the final report on the investigation is completed. No conclusions about how the crash happened should be drawn from the information in this investigative update,” the NTSB added.
Investigations into all elements of the accident will continue until more information is obtained. “All aspects of the crash, including Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system, the postcrash fire, occupant egress, and results of the driver’s toxicological tests, remain under investigation while the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar events in the future,” the agency said.