The operator of a Tesla that reportedly caused an eight-car pileup on the San Francisco Bay Bridge during the Thanksgiving travel rush told police that the car was operating in “Full Self-Driving” mode at the time of the incident, blaming the crash on a malfunction in the software rather than human error, CNN Business reports.
The California Highway Patrol released its report to the outlet this week. The report confirms that police obtained video of the accident (likely from traffic cameras installed on the bridge) that confirmed initial reports that the Tesla (a Model S, based on eyewitness video from the scene) was traveling at about 55 MPH before moving to the left lane and sharply braking, setting off the chain-reaction accident that hospitalized two young passengers in another car. The crash tied up two lanes of traffic for 90 minutes as San Franciscans were leaving town for the holiday.
NHTSA on Thursday announced that it will be investigating the Bay Bridge crash, along with a crash on Nov. 18 near Toledo, Ohio, in which a Tesla Model 3 crashed into an Ohio Highway Patrol SUV stopped on a roadway with its emergency lights flashing. Both the trooper and a motorist were injured.
The Bay Bridge crash occurred on the same day Elon Musk announced that beta-testing of FSD would be expanded from a limited set of Tesla owners to “anyone in North America who requests it.” That said, Tesla has warned drivers that the system “may do the wrong thing at the worst time.”
However damning the video evidence of the crash may sound, CHP said it did not conclusively show whether the vehicle was being driven by its human operator or FSD.
That’s good news for Tesla, at least for the time being. The company remains under investigation by NHTSA for phantom braking incidents reported by drivers using the FSD feature. The agency has described the system as braking “without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive.” Hundreds of Tesla owners have complained about the system’s behavior.
The agency told CNN that it was aware of and investigating the Thanksgiving crash to determine whether any of the Tesla’s semi-autonomous features may have malfunctioned.