Lawyer for Family of Man Killed in Tesla Crash Says Autopilot Failed to Keep Car from Sliding Under Semitruck at 68 mph

A Tesla car, running on Autopilot, skidded 1,600 feet after sliding under a semitruck at 68 mph, shearing off its top and killing its driver, according to a lawyer who is suing the carmaker.

The crash in west Delray Beach happened four months ago when a tractor-trailer pulled out in front of a bright red Tesla Model 3 driven by 50-year-old Jeremy Banner.

The Autopilot system failed, according to a lawsuit Banner’s family filed Thursday in Palm Beach County. The system should have braked or swerved to avoid the semitruck, Trey Lytal, the family’s attorney, said at a news conference.

About 10 seconds before the crash, Banner engaged the Autopilot system, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Less than eight seconds before the collision, his hands weren’t detected on the steering wheel, which would have prompted warnings from the car’s automated system, investigators found.

The car traveled about the length of five football fields after the collision, Lytal said.

Banner’s family sued Tesla, trucking company First Fleet and semitruck driver Richard Keith Wood. The family — Banner’s wife, Kim, and three kids — seek more than $15,000 in damages for the death of their husband and father.

“My family is devastated due to the untimely and tragic death of a loving husband and father,” a statement from the family said. “It is difficult to discuss and relive what happened to Jeremy at this time. Our family has faith in the legal system that justice will be done and those responsible for his death will be held accountable.”

Tesla representatives did not respond to the lawsuit and referred to the company’s statement in May about the crash.

In it, Tesla said Banner used the Autopilot in the 10 seconds before the crash but not any other time. “Our data shows that, when used properly by an attentive driver who is prepared to take control at all times, drivers supported by Autopilot are safer than those operating without assistance,” the statement says.

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SOURCE: The Sun Sentinel, Brooke Baitinger