(KRON) — A deadly collision between a Tesla and a firetruck on an East Bay freeway in February happened while the Tesla was operating on autopilot, according to crash data obtained by KRON4. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in March that it is investigating 16 fatal Tesla crashes involving the autopilot system.
The crash happened around 4 a.m. on Feb. 18, when a 2014 Tesla Model S slammed into a fire truck that was blocking part of the roadway after an accident, the Contra Costa County Fire Department said.
The Tesla was traveling at 71 mph when it hit, according to crash data from the NHTSA. The driver behind the wheel of the Tesla died at the scene, and another passenger had to be extricated from the vehicle with “major” injuries, the California Highway Patrol said.
Four firefighters were also inside of the truck at the time of the crash. Fortunately, all four were wearing their seatbelts when the Tesla struck.
The California Highway Patrol confirmed the identity of the Tesla driver who died as 31-year-old Genesis Giovani Mendoza Martinez of Pittsburg. CHP was not able to confirm if drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash, as the toxicology report is still pending.
The cause of death for Martinez has not yet been determined. CHP is still investigating the cause of the crash.
How does Tesla autopilot work?
Autopilot is a driver-assistance system that Tesla says “enhances safety and convenience behind the wheel.” The system comes standard on every Tesla, according to the company’s website. Teslas have eight external cameras built in which provide the system with the ability for vision processing.
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Tesla states that all of its autopilot systems are meant to be used with a “fully attentive driver” with hands on the wheel. The company’s expectation is that the driver should be ready to take over at any moment.
The NHTSA confirmed the self-driving mode was installed in the vehicle but declined to confirm if it was in use at the time. However, an NHTSA report obtained by KRON4 indicates that Tesla confirmed the system was in use at the time of the crash. KRON4 reached out to Tesla for comment on the incident but did not hear back.