tesla model x crash

Tesla has withdrawn from an investigation "party agreement" with National Transportation Safety Board, according to Reuters.

  • Tesla has withdrawn from an investigation "party agreement" with National Transportation Safety Board, Reuter reports.
  • The agreement was in effect for a fatal Tesla Autopilot crash in California in March.
  • The NTSB had expressed disappointment that Tesla was continuing to release accident details to the public.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Tesla has withdrawn from a "party agreement" with the National Transportation Safety Board concerning the investigation of a fatal crash in Northern California.

In a reported statement, Tesla said that it would continue to provide technical assistance to the NTSB even though it would no longer be a formal party to the investigation.

The accident involved a Tesla Model X, operating on the company's Autopilot semi-self-driving system. The vehicle crashed into a freeway divider and caught fire; the driver later died from his injuries.

It was the second US fatality in an Autopilot-related accident. A previous crash involved a Tesla Model S, which collided with a semi-trailer truck in Florida in 2016, killing its driver.

The NTSB, normally tasked with investigating aviation accidents, also probed that crash. Additionally, the NTSB is investigating another 2018 accident in which a Tesla on Autopilot rear-ended a fire engine.

In a statement contained in published reports, Tesla said that it withdrew from the agreement because it stipulates that the company not share investigation details with the public. Since the accident, Tesla has released several statements and written posts for the company blog suggesting that the victim in the crash had ignored warnings to take control of his Model X. On Wednesday, the company also said in a statement that the only way for the accident to occur was if the driver had not been paying attention.

The NTSB rebuked Tesla for revealing investigation details, but CEO Elon Musk and NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt reportedly discussed the relationship last weekend. It appeared as though Tesla had patched things up.

Thursday's news indicates that the company hasn't — or intends to present an account of the accident stressing that the carmaker has informed owners that Autopilot is not a fully autonomous system that allows extensive hands-free operation.

What is a party agreement?

The purpose of party status is to enable NTSB investigators to receive technical advice and guidance.

"As a condition to being granted this status, parties sign an agreement that explicitly prohibits them from releasing investigative information to the media or to comment or analyze investigative findings without prior consultation with the NTSB," the agency has explained in detailing a previous instance when the agreement was violated. "Once the investigation is completed, all such restrictions are lifted."

Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request to provide its official statement or to comment on ending the party agreement.

The company has published two blog posts since the accident in which it provided information about the crash but also restated its position on Autopilot's limitations and potential to improve safety.

On Wednesday, Tesla responded to reports that the driver in the accident, Walter Huang, had previously complained to his family about his vehicle's performance on Autopilot in the area where the crash occurred.

"According to the family, Mr. Huang was well aware that Autopilot was not perfect and, specifically, he told them it was not reliable in that exact location, yet he nonetheless engaged Autopilot at that location," Tesla said in a statement.

Tesla shares declined slightly in pre-market trading on Thursday, to $297.

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