Tesla Withdraws from NTSB Party Agreement Following Fatal Model X Crash

The NTSB agreement required Tesla to withhold information from the public for a year.

Dean C. Smith, Twitter

It seems that Tesla and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board haven't been seeing eye to eye lately, following the fatal crash of a Model X in California last month. Now, according to Tesla, the automaker has withdrawn from its prior agreement with the NTSB over disagreements in fundamental disclosure practices.

By withdrawing from the agreement, Tesla will reportedly be able to release information to the public about the accident instead of being confined to silence while the investigation completes. In a time when autonomy is under fire from the public and press, the electric automaker understands the need to be transparent with people over its Autopilot system, especially since it was revealed to be enabled during the fatal Model X crash.

“Today, Tesla withdrew from the party agreement with the NTSB because it requires that we not release information about Autopilot to the public, a requirement which we believe fundamentally affects public safety negatively," a Tesla spokesperson told The Drive, "We believe in transparency, so an agreement that prevents public release of information for over a year is unacceptable. Even though we won't be a formal party, we will continue to provide technical assistance to the NTSB.”

Elon Musk took to Twitter earlier this month to issue a rebuttal to a statement that the NTSB issued, which stated that the board was "unhappy" that Tesla chose to break silence of the crash investigation ahead of its closure.

Since then, the NTSB and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have reportedly been unable to come to a formal agreement on the matter, ultimately leading to Tesla being removed from the agreement. Though Tesla states that it withdrew from the agreement in order to remain transparent with the public, the NTSB tells a different story, stating that Tesla was removed due to it violating the party agreement after announcing that it found the Model X involved in the accident had Autopilot enabled during the accident.

“It is unfortunate that Tesla, by its actions, did not abide by the party agreement,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in a written statement. “We decided to revoke Tesla’s party status and informed Mr. Musk in a phone call last evening and via letter today. While we understand the demand for information that parties face during an NTSB investigation, uncoordinated releases of incomplete information do not further transportation safety or serve the public interest.”

Tesla has been investigated by the NTSB prior to this crash, and its autopilot system criticized by the board for lacking system safeguards. The NTSB has stressed in the past that Tesla's autopilot does not constitute a fully self-driving car at this time, while Tesla states that drivers are much less likely to be involved in an accident while Autopilot is equipped. Regardless, drivers must still remain attentive at all times behind the wheel.

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