The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Friday it will open a special investigation into a crash in Florida on Wednesday that killed a 66-year-old Tesla driver and a 67-year-old passenger.
A 2015 Tesla drove behind a parked tractor-trailer in the Gainesville area at a rest area along Interstate 75, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Both people in the Tesla, who were from Lompoc, California, were pronounced dead at the scene. A patrol spokesman said it was unclear whether Autopilot was in use.
On Thursday, the NHTSA confirmed it had opened a special investigation into a fatal pedestrian accident in California involving a 2018 Tesla Model 3, which is believed to have involved an advanced driver assistance system.
NHTSA has previously opened 36 special crash investigations — including the California crash — involving Tesla Inc vehicles that have used advanced driver assistance systems such as Autopilot since 2016.
Those Tesla investigations reported a total of 17 fatalities, including the Florida crash.
NHTSA annually opens more than 100 special crash investigations into emerging technologies and other potential in-car safety issues that, for example, previously helped develop airbag safety regulations.
Tesla, which has dissolved its press service, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Florida crash bears similarities to a series of crashes under investigation by the NHTSA.
In June, the NHTSA upgraded its failure probe to 830,000 Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, a required step before they could request a recall.
The NHTSA opened a preliminary review to assess the system’s performance in 765,000 vehicles after about a dozen crashes in which Tesla vehicles stalled with emergency vehicles stopped — and said last month it had identified six additional crashes.
NHTSA administrator Steven Cliff told Reuters on Wednesday that he wants to complete the Tesla Autopilot investigation “as soon as possible, but I also want to get it right. There is a lot of information we need to sort through.”