The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the fatal crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S and a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck in Williston, Florida, which occurred in May.

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    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the fatal crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S and a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck in Williston, Florida, which occurred in May.

    The NTSB has not specified a timeline for the final report but noted that such investigations typically take about a year to analyze data and determine the probable cause of the crash.

    Expert Insight: Wayne Cohen, a professor at George Washington University Law School and founding partner of Cohen & Cohen, highlighted that fatality reports are usually handled by state police, not federal authorities. However, federal involvement in this case is due to the advanced and complex technology in use, which raises new questions about civil and criminal liability.

    Cohen emphasized that the investigation results will provide crucial answers for the families affected and help establish a legal framework for the everyday use of advanced vehicle technologies in the U.S.

    Tesla’s Response: Tesla has not yet commented on its cooperation with the NTSB, NHTSA, and Florida state police. Following the crash, Consumer Reports urged Tesla to disable and rename its Autopilot feature until it is safer. Tesla refused, stating:

    “Tesla is constantly introducing enhancements, proven over millions of miles of internal testing, to ensure that drivers supported by Autopilot remain safer than those operating without assistance. We will continue to develop, validate, and release those enhancements as the technology grows.”

    CEO Elon Musk has noted that Tesla vehicles have driven 130 million miles on Autopilot with only one confirmed fatality, which he claims is a better safety record than human drivers. Musk’s “Master Plan” for Tesla includes making Autopilot ten times safer than traditional driving. He predicts that in about 5.5 years, Tesla vehicles will have driven 6 billion miles on Autopilot, a milestone he believes will demonstrate the technology’s readiness for global mainstream approval.

    Vendor Partnerships: The scrutiny extends beyond Tesla to its technology partners. Mobileye, which provided image analysis processors for Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving, announced that its partnership with Tesla is ending.

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