Elon Musk Responds to NTSB's Criticism of Tesla Model X Crash Handling


Elon Musk responded on Monday to the National Transportation Safety Board’s criticism of how Tesla has handled a fatal crash. The board is currently investigating a crash that occurred March 23, where a driver in a Model X sports utility vehicle crashed on Highway 101 in California. While initially Tesla only detailed its Autopilot safety record, a few days later the company released a statement with more details about the incident.

The board told the Washington Post that it was “unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla,” referring to a statement that detailed how 38-year-old Apple software engineer Wei “Walter” Huang had under 500 feet and five seconds to react to in-car warnings before hitting a concrete divider. Tesla also confirmed in its statement that Autopilot was engaged. Musk responded to the board’s comments on his Twitter page, stating that he had a “lot of respect for NTSB, but NHTSA regulates cars, not NTSB, which is an advisory body. Tesla releases critical crash data affecting public safety immediately & always will. To do otherwise would be unsafe.”

By “NHTSA,” Musk is referring to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the board can make recommendations around safety, it’s the administration that would have to open its own investigation and demand a recall or fine in the case of safety defects. Reuters reported on Wednesday that that the administration has sent a team to investigate.

Relatives of Huang told ABC7News that he had complained about Tesla Autopilot’s performance to the company before the incident. A spokesperson told the Washington Post that “we cannot find anything suggesting that the customer ever complained to Tesla about the performance of Autopilot.”

The board is not expected to comment further on the incident until a preliminary report is released a few weeks after the field work is completed.

It’s not the first time Tesla Autopilot has become the subject of an investigation — the first fatality was confirmed in June 2016.

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