Jeremy Beren Banner, 50, is the latest South Florida resident to die in an accident involving a Tesla electric vehicle. According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred on March 1 on State Road 7 just north of Atlantic Avenue in West Delray.
Banner was southbound in a 2018 Tesla Model 3 when his vehicle hit the side of tractor-tailor that was turning left onto a divided highway. The impact sheared off the roof of the Tesla as it passed under the trailer. It is unclear if the Tesla’s autopilot or automatic emergency braking systems were functioning at the time of the crash.
Banner’s crash is currently being investigated by two federal agencies: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has authority to seek recalls, levy fines, and implement regulations; and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which makes recommendations to prevent car accidents.
Both agencies will likely be checking to see if Banner’s vehicle was using the semi-autonomous driving system at the time of the crash.
The Banner crash is eerily similar to another accident involving a Tesla Model S that occurred in May 2016 in Alachua County. The driver of that Tesla, identified as Joshua Brown of Ohio, was driving on a divided highway using the autopilot when he crashed into a tractor-trailer. Neither Brown nor the Tesla braked before the impact, which tore off the roof of the Tesla as it went beneath the trailer.
In a 2017 report, the NTSB wrote that the limitations of the Tesla’s autopilot system played a big role in Brown’s death. Tesla reportedly told Model S owners that the autopilot system should primarily be used on interstates and highways with limited access, but the automaker didn’t add any safeguards against the use of the system on other types of roads.
The NTSB found that the radar and cameras on the Model S couldn’t detect a vehicle turning into its path as they were primarily designed to detect cars in front of it.
The NHTSA also launched an investigation into the Brown crash in 2017. The agency concluded that Tesla’s autopilot system had no safety defects, but it warned automakers and drivers not to treat vehicles that use the system as self-driving.
Tesla has stated that its autopilot system and automatic emergency braking are meant to assist drivers, and that drivers must continuously monitor the road and be ready to take over.
The NHTSA has sent a team to look into Banner crash in Delray Beach. The agency is working together with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in the probe. It will likely incorporate the Banner crash into other investigations from the previous year involving Tesla vehicles.
South Florida Personal Injury Attorney