The Tesla Model X crash that occurred in Montana on Saturday, which was blamed on Autopilot, now might have a new element to it: the driver might not have had his hands on the wheel at the time of the incident. It remains unclear.
The driver was traveling from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, Montana Highway Patrolman Jade Slope said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The car hit the guardrail and went on for 200 feet before getting back on the roadway. However, Slope wasn’t sure if the driver’s hands were on the wheel.
Tesla offered what data it had to the Wall Street Journal:
A Tesla spokeswoman said the car had its Autosteer feature enabled and that data suggests the driver’s hands weren’t on the steering wheel. Failing to periodically place hands on the steering wheel violates terms drivers agree to when enabling the feature, the Tesla spokeswoman said. The technology reminded the driver to put his hands on the wheel shortly before the crash, she said. Tesla advises against using Autosteer on high speeds or undivided roads such as the one in the Montana crash, she said.
Between the officer who wasn’t sure and the data that only suggested but didn’t confirm anything, nobody can say for certain that hands were not on the wheel or that hands were on the wheel. Tesla is saying that it maybe looked like there were not hands on the wheel. Only upon further investigation will we have an answer.