Tesla Model S In Fatal Autopilot Crash Was Going 74 MPH In A 65 Zone: Feds

Image Credit: NTSB/Florida Highway Patrol. Passenger car damage from impact with semitrailer

The initial report from the National Transportation Safety Board released today revealed that the driver in the fatal Tesla Model S crash in Florida in May was driving in Autopilot over the speed limit during the time of the incident. The report has some other new details about the wreck, but not many.


The report reads:

Tesla system performance data downloaded from the car indicated that vehicle speed just prior to impact was 74 mph. System performance data also revealed that the driver was operating the car using the advanced driver assistance features Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping assistance. The car was also equipped with automatic emergency braking that is designed to automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of or assist in avoiding frontal collisions.


U.S. Highway 27A, the stretch of road west of Williston, Florida where the crash occurred, is a four-lane highway with a posted speed limit of 65 mph.

It’s not a significant amount of over-the-limit speeding, but it’s enough that investigators—and Tesla—will consider it a factor in the wreck. Tesla’s Autopilot system does not stop you from exceeding posted speed limits if you desire.


A fan of the Tesla Model S and its Autopilot capabilities, the driver Joshua D. Brown posted more than 20 videos to YouTube that demonstrated his Tesla’s self-driving abilities. Florida Highway Patrol reported that it had found a DVD player inside of the wrecked Model S, though it is unclear whether or not it contributed to the crash.

This crash is still under investigation and this report from the NTSB is preliminary.

Image Credit: NTSB. Crash scene intersection
Image Credit: NTSB. Right side of semitrailer. Area in red oval highlights collision damage from passenger car.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Kristen Lee

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.