Most Illinois residents that own Tesla vehicles understand that their car’s Autopilot feature requires human supervision. However, there have been several fatal accidents when Tesla owners attempted to use their vehicles as though they were completely autonomous. In April, two passengers in a 2019 Tesla Model S were killed while riding in the vehicle with no one in the driver’s seat.
Police say no one was behind the wheel
The fatal crash took place on April 17 in a suburb outside Houston, Texas. According to investigators with the Harris County police precinct, there was definitely no person in the driver’s seat of the Tesla car when it crashed into some trees after failing to navigate around a curve in the road.
Two men, aged 59 and 69, were both killed in the accident. Investigators say that the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when the crash happened. Photos of the crash scene show that the vehicle was completely destroyed by fire. Following the crash, firefighters needed 32,000 gallons of water and four hours in order to put out the fire.
Musk says Autopilot was not engaged
Tesla usually doesn’t respond to press inquiries about auto accidents involving its cars, but CEO Elon Musk did tweet about this particular incident. He said that data logs indicated that the Autopilot feature had not been engaged at the time of the crash. Musk also said that the street where the accident occurred had no lane lines, which are required for Autopilot to work properly.
Liability for self-driving car accidents
The issue of liability for these kinds of self-driving car accidents is murky. Car manufacturers like Tesla usually try to distance themselves from liability by including warnings that their vehicles are not completely autonomous. However, critics of Tesla say that the carmaker continues to market its cars as self-driving.