A Tesla using an advanced-driver assistance system slammed into the back of a tow truck while traveling on a Moscow highway over the weekend, bursting into flames after the collision and injuring the driver, according to Russian news reports and social media footage.
The driver, Aleksey Tretyakov, 41, told Russian news outlet REN TV the vehicle was operating in Autopilot mode at the time of the crash. Tretyakov broke his leg, the reports said, and he was accompanied in the vehicle by two children who also required medical attention.
It was not immediately clear what type of Tesla the driver was operating. Tesla declined to comment on the crash, which occurred Saturday.
The incident was the latest in a string of highly publicized crashes in which Tesla’s Autopilot was allegedly engaged. In the United States, investigators have probed at least three fatal crashes involving Autopilot. The feature was active during another deadly crash in China.
The crash over the weekend was the first of its kind in Russia, according to news reports.
Tesla’s Autopilot assists with keeping a vehicle in its lane, steering and other functions such as taking the vehicle from highway on-ramp to off-ramp. Still, the driver must be fully engaged and alert during the operation of the vehicle.
The automaker has consistently said that Autopilot is safer than a human driving alone. It says the crash rate with Autopilot is nearly half that during normal unassisted human driving — though it hasn’t released detailed data for verification.
Tesla has consistently come under regulatory scrutiny for claims regarding the safety of its vehicles. Its pledge to release vehicles capable of “full self-driving” by year’s end have worried safety regulators and industry competitors, The Washington Post has previously reported. Federal regulators also scolded Tesla chief executive Elon Musk last year for making what they said were “misleading statements” on Tesla safety, including claiming that Tesla’s Model 3 has the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle the federal government had tested.
Despite the cease-and-desist letter the government issued in the fall, Tesla continues to use such language on its website.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in the letter that death rate and injury probability typically vary depending on the weight of the vehicle, meaning a heavier SUV might have a lower probability of injury than a sedan.