Tesla Autopilot wasn’t engaged in fatal 31-vehicle pile-up in Germany despite earlier speculation


Germany’s A1 Autobahn was the scene of a fatal 31-vehicle carambolage last weekend that resulted in the tragic death of a 73-year-old Tesla Model S driver and in injuries to 15 more people (6 serious and 9 minor injuries). In total, 26 cars, 3 semi trucks, and 2 large transport vans were involved, but the Model S grabbed the headlines since the death happened in the vehicle and some media quickly jumped at the possibility of Tesla’s Autopilot being the cause.

Local authorities reportedly launched an investigation into the cause of the accident and while there’s no concrete information leading to believe that they are looking into the Autopilot, especially since the Model S wasn’t the first car involved in the accident, local news reports stated that the authorities are looking into Tesla’s advanced driver assist system.

We have reached out to Tesla to ask if they could confirm that the Autopilot was engaged or not during the accident since the company has access to vehicle logs, and a spokesperson confirmed that the Autopilot wasn’t engaged.

While we can’t confirm the speed of the vehicle, it’s important to note that the German Autobahn has virtually no speed limit, but the Autopilot has one: 90 mph. If a Tesla driver wants to drive faster than 90 mph, which they can on the Autobahn, they have to disengage the Autopilot. We are not suggesting it was the case in this accident, but it is a possibility since it happened on the A1.

A report claims that the Model S crashed into “a small truck that had collided with another truck stopped in the middle of the road due to the carambolage”. (pictures via LN Online)

The same report said that a violent hailstorm had just turned the highway into an “ice-skating slide”.

The Model S potentially rolled over following the collision based on the aftermath of the car, but the extraction of the driver could have also contributed to the visible damage. Police officers were already on the scene attending to other accidents when the Model S collided with the trucks, but a quick response apparently didn’t make a difference.

Over 120 members of the fire brigade and rescue service were on the scene for hours trying to assist people involved in the crash. It resulted in a 10-hour traffic jam:

The 73-year-old driver of the Model S tragically joins the short, but unfortunately growing list of drivers who’ve died in the Model S. While Tesla officials often boasted about the lack of death or serious injuries in the early days of the Model S, 4 years and over 120,000 vehicles later, numbers are statistically bound to grow.

There now have been several other accidents resulting in casualties in a Tesla Model S, including some freak accidents like when an 85-year-old man drowned after crashing his Tesla Model S through a brick wall and into a swimming pool or when a car thief died after the Model S he was driving split in two following a collision with a post during a police chase at over 100 mph.

In other cases, drivers credited the Model S for saving their lives in severe accidents, like we reported just yesterday following a high-speed collision with a tree.

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