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The National Transportation Safety Board says the car company is not at fault. Aaron Dickens reports.
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The design of Tesla’s partially self-driving system contributed to a crash that killed an Ohio man in May 2016, a federal transportation official said Tuesday.

National Transportation Safety Board chair Robert Sumwalt said the Tesla vehicle’s “operational limitations played a major role in this collision.”

His statement came at the beginning of a hearing where the NTSB is expected to rule on whether the Autopilot system on Ohio resident Joshua Brown’s Tesla Model S should be blamed for the Florida crash that killed him. 

Brown was relying on Autopilot’s self-accelerating, steering and braking when he slammed into a semi-truck and died instantly.

NTSB staff concluded that both drivers had “at least 10 seconds” to spot each other but there was “no evidence of any evasive action” by either.

NTSB staff said Tesla Autopilot “functioned as designed,” but that it should not have allowed Brown to use the system how he did.

Tesla has emphasized that drivers are always responsible for keeping their hands at the wheel and monitoring their surroundings. But NTSB officials said Tesla’s method of reminding the driver to grab the wheel “was not an effective method for ensuring driver engagement.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that advancements implemented several months after the crash probably could have prevented it.

The accident is believed to be the first deadly crash in which an American driver was relying on self-driving technology.

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Joshua Brown didn’t keep his hands on the wheel, despite repeated vehicle warnings, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
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The victim’s family said in a statement that it did not blame the car for killing Brown.

“That is simply not the case,” the family said. “There was a small window of time when neither Joshua nor the Tesla features noticed the truck making the left-hand turn in front of the car.”

The family praised Tesla for using the situation to improve its technology.

“Joshua believed, and our family continues to believe, that the new technology going into cars and the move to autonomous driving has already saved many lives,” the family said. “Change always comes with risks, and zero tolerance for deaths would totally stop innovation and improvements.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said separately in January that it had…