Tesla Car in Autopilot Mode Hit and Killed Motorcyclist Near Seattle, Raising Questions About the Tech's Safety

By Trisha Andrada

Apr 25, 2024 06:08 AM EDT

Tesla's Autopilot driving system raises safety concerns after a tragic car crash near Seattle that hit and killed a motorcyclist.

Fatal Accident Involving Tesla Car Reported Near Seattle

According to Fox Business, the Washington State Patrol incident summary states that the collision occurred in Maltby, Washington, at around 3:45 PM local time last Friday, April 19.

The 56-year-old driver of the 2022 Tesla Model S admitted to using Autopilot and staring at his phone while the vehicle was in motion. He faces charges of vehicular homicide after his arrest.

"The next thing he knew there was a bang and the vehicle lurched forward as it accelerated and collided with the motorcycle in front of him," the trooper wrote in a document, The Associated Press reported.

At the site of the accident, officials declared 28-year-old motorcyclist Jeffrey Nissen of Stanwood, Washington, dead. He was under the car.

Police have said that they have not conducted their own inquiry on whether or not Autopilot was active during the collision, saying that the investigation is still in early stages.

READ NEXT: Tesla Stock Soars After Elon Musk's Robotaxi Promises Despite Weak Quarterly Results

Can Tesla's Autopilot System Be Trusted?

As the name suggests, Autopilot helps maintain a car in its lane and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it. However, according to Tesla's website, the cars are not really capable of driving themselves.

In December 2023, Tesla was forced to recall over 2 million cars to repair a faulty technology that was meant to ensure drivers pay attention while using Autopilot. This recall was issued in response to the pressure from the United States auto safety authorities.

As part of the two-year probe into Tesla cars on Autopilot hitting emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road, the recall was issued. Tesla reluctantly agreed to update the Autopilot software to give drivers more warnings and alerts. Critics also recommended that the system include infrared cameras to assist drivers in maintaining a focused gaze on the road.

READ MORE: Tesla Shareholder Asks Judge to Prevent Elon Musk From Moving Pay Fight to Texas to Evade Delaware Ruling

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