Minnesota driver who crashed his Tesla blames the car's autopilot feature

This isn't the first time Tesla's autopilot feature has been blamed in a crash.
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A Minnesota man who crashed his Tesla this weekend is blaming the car's autopilot feature.

A news release from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office says the accident happened at the intersection of 141st Street NE and 172nd Avenue NE in Irving Township at 7:22 p.m. on Saturday.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found a 2016 Tesla upside down in a nearby marsh.

The driver, 58-year-old David Clark of Eden Prairie, told authorities that he was heading eastbound on 172nd Avenue NE when the car's autopilot feature suddenly accelerated. The car went off the road and rolled over.

Clark and the four adult passengers in his vehicle survived with minor injuries, the sheriff's office says.

It's not the first time

This isn't the first time Tesla's autopilot mode has been blamed in a crash.

The car company made headlines last year after a Tesla Model S collided with a tractor trailer in Florida. The driver was killed in the crash, becoming the first person to die in a partially autonomous car.

About a month later, a Tesla Model X crashed into a beauty salon in California. That fall, another Model S crashed into a gym in Florida.

In most cases, Tesla has been able to pull the data logs from the cars involved to show that the driver was actually to blame for ignoring alerts or not keeping their hands on the steering wheel, says Electrek, a blog that tracks the electric-vehicle market.

In the case of the fatal crash, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the car in autopilot mode had warned its driver seven times to put his hands on the steering wheel during the 40 minutes before the crash. The investigation concluded that Tesla's software didn't have any safety defects.

A Tesla spokesperson released this statement to Electrek about the Minnesota crash:

“We are glad the driver and passengers are safe. We are working to establish the facts of the incident and have offered our full cooperation to the local authorities. We have not yet established whether the vehicle’s Autopilot feature was activated, and have no reason to believe that Autopilot, which has been found by NHTSA to reduce accident rates by 40%, worked other than as designed. Every time a driver engages Autopilot, they are reminded of their responsibility to remain engaged and to be prepared to take immediate action at all times, and drivers must acknowledge their responsibility to do so before Autopilot is enabled.”

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