Investigators are working to determine whether a Tesla Model 3 was in Autopilot mode when it collided with a turning semi truck in Florida.
The crash happened at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, March 1, in Delray Beach, Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post.
During the crash, a Tesla Model 3 driven by 50 year old Jeremy Banner crashed into a truck that was making a turn from an access road onto southbound US 441/SR 7, which resulted in “the roof [of the Tesla] being sheared off as it passed underneath” the trailer. The Tesla continued driving for several blocks before it came to a stop after the crash.
Here’s how the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office described the accident in a crash report:
“Vehicle 1 (V-1) was a tractor/trailer combination vehicle traveling eastbound on the driveway access to 14095 SR 7 (Pero Farms) preparing to turn left onto SR 7. Vehicle 2 (V-2) was traveling southbound on SR 7 within the outside lane approaching Pero Farms. After V-1 came to a brief stop at a stop sign, V-1 entered the southbound lanes of SR 7 pulling into the path of V-2. V-2 struck the driver side of V-1’s trailer resulting in the roof being sheared off as it passed underneath the trailer. V-2 continued southbound and came to a final rest approx 3/10th of a mile south of the collision. The driver of V-2 was pronounced deceased on scene.”
Banner died at the scene. Florida-based truck driver Richard Keith Wood was not injured.
Wood did make a “brief stop” at the stop sign and no charges against him have been filed at this time.
The crash is still under investigation and it isn’t clear at this time whether the Tesla was in Autopilot mode. When Autopilot mode is engaged, the Tesla is able to take actions could help stop a crash with features that can detect obstacles, adjust speed, change lanes, and apply the vehicle’s brakes.
The crash has many of the same elements of a high profile crash that happened in May of 2016 in Williston, Florida.
During this crash, a Tesla that was in Autopilot mode collided with the trailer of a truck that failed to yield while crossing a divided highway. Forty year old Tesla driver Joshua Brown died at the scene. The roof-less Tesla continued driving for about 500 yards after the collision.
Following the crash, initial reports indicated that the Tesla’s camera technology was unable to tell the difference between the white side of the turning semi trailer and the sky.
The crash marked America’s first fatality crash involving an autonomous vehicle and launched a federal investigation that ended with Tesla being absolved of any wrong-doing.
The crash remains under investigation by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.