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What we know so far about the fatal Tesla crash in Paris

This new report adds to the mounting concerns over the safety of Tesla vehicles. In 2020, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated reports of Tesla cars unintentionally and rapidly accelerating after receiving more than 200 complaints of such incidents. Ultimately, the Washington Post says the agency attributed the issue to people hitting the wrong pedals, speeding up when they meant to brake, rather than technical defects. The Washington Post notes that electric cars are also able to speed up faster than most gas-powered vehicles, which could have contributed to driver confusion over the acceleration.

However, the NHTSA has been involved in looking into a number of other issues relating to Tesla this year. On Thursday, the agency said it is currently in communication with Tesla over glitching Autopilot cameras in some of its vehicles. CNBC said Tesla is replacing these on a “goodwill basis” for owners experiencing the issue, but that the company has not put out a voluntary recall. And last week, the NHTSA responded to a New York Times article published about an update that allows Tesla drivers to play video games on the dash while the car is in motion, saying the agency is “discussing the feature with the manufacturer.”
Other, more serious problems with Tesla’s self-driving and Autopilot features have prompted NHTSA investigations and recalls. This summer, the agency launched an ongoing inquiry into multiple accidents involving Teslas hitting emergency vehicles while in Autopilot mode, which have resulted in numerous injuries and one death. Then, in November, Tesla issued a safety recall over a “software communication error” in its Full-Self Driving Beta program, which has since been addressed in a software update. It is currently unknown whether the Paris driver was using the Autopilot feature when the accident took place this past weekend.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has not commented on the crash, but he did broadly respond to safety concerns around automobile autonomy in a Monday interview with TIME, which named him 2021’s “Person of the Year.”

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