THE WOODLANDS: A Tesla Inc electric car that “no one” appeared to be driving crashed late Saturday in Texas, erupting into flames and killing the two passengers, according to local authorities.
One victim was found in the front passenger seat of a 2019 Model S and the other was in the rear, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said in a telephone interview. The car ran into a tree in the Carlton Woods subdivision near The Woodlands after traveling at high speed and failing to navigate a turn.
The position of the victims, statements and other physical evidence suggest that “no one was driving the vehicle at the time of impact,” Herman said. “It’s still under investigation.”
Herman said his office is coordinating with federal authorities, without specifying which ones, and didn’t know whether the Autopilot feature was engaged. It took more than 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire, which burned for four hours, he added.
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Federal officials have criticized Tesla for fire risks related to the battery packs in its cars and for not doing enough to keep drivers from using its driver-assist function inappropriately. In a hearing last year, the National Transportation Safety Board’s chairman said that “it’s time to stop enabling drivers in any partially automated vehicle to pretend that they have driverless cars.”
NTSB, which has investigated numerous previous Tesla crashes, isn’t planning on opening a new probe into the latest incident, spokesman Chris O’Neil said.
Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk has defended the safety record of his company’s vehicles. This week, he shared a report on Twitter, saying that a Tesla with Autopilot engaged is now approaching a “10 times lower” chance of an accident than an average vehicle.
Winter is paying yet another unwelcome visit to portions of the central and northeastern U.S. this week, putting a damper on spring for at least the next several days.
Snow is forecast to fall across a long swath of the country, all the way from the Rockies to New England, the National Weather Service said. Cities such as Denver, Kansas City, Detroit and Buffalo should all see snow.
After a snowy Monday in the northern Rockies, snow will start to fall across Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri early Tuesday before overspreading into Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan into Tuesday afternoon and evening, AccuWeather said.
Finally, the snow will move into portions of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and northern New England throughout the day on Wednesday.
Other than the 6-12 inches of snow that’s forecast for the Rockies, amounts should range from 3-6 inches across most of the snowstorm’s path.
A snowplow clears the snow from Route 9, in Marlboro, Vt., as several inches of snow falls on Friday, April 16, 2023. More snow is forecast in portions of New England by mid-week, the National Weather Service said.
Snow may cause travel disruptions throughout the storm, AccuWeather said. Any wet or slushy areas on roads could freeze Tuesday night as temperatures are expected to dip below freezing in many locations.
Cold blast for central U.S.
A cold front heading south through the central U.S. also packs a punch this week, bringing sub-freezing overnight temperatures all the way into south Texas by Wednesday morning. Numerous daily record low temperatures are forecast to be tied or broken, according to the weather service.
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Wednesday morning should have the most widespread number of record lows, including several cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and central Illinois, Weather.com said. A few more locations in the Midwest and South could approach daily records lows on Thursday morning.
Freeze watches and warnings are in place across much of the central Plains to the Midwest, the weather service said. The freezing temperatures “could kill crops, other sensitive vegetation and possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing,” the weather service warned.
A Tesla car crash in Texas left two people dead and sparked a fire that took hours to put out, according to local news reports.
The crash of the Tesla model S happened Saturday night in Woodlands, Texas, according to Houston TV station KTRK.
The car veered off the road, hitting a tree. Two men, one in the front passenger seat and another in the back, were found dead at the scene, said KTRK. They were not immediately identified.
Firefighters said the all-electric car’s batteries continued to catch fire, and it took roughly four hours and 23,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.
The vehicle can be driven on auto-pilot, but KTRK said it wasn’t yet known if that feature was being used at the time of the accident. The feature has come under scrutiny in the wake of a series of other crashes.
Tesla could not be immediately reached for comment.
In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would send a team to Detroit to look into a crash that critically injured two people when their Tesla drove under a tractor trailer. Similar accidents involving Teslas happened in Florida in 2016 and 2019, when cars also drove under tractor trailers, resulting in two deaths. The two vehicles were in autopilot mode.
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A Tesla Model S plugged in for charging.
Tesla has said that the Autopilot feature and “full self-driving” are programs that assist drivers and they should be ready to take control at any time.
But federal transportation officials have said Tesla has done a poor job of monitoring motorists to ensure they are engaged and also allows the autopilot feature to be tapped on roads that are unsuitable.