A Tesla Model 3 went up in flames following a violent collision involving a stationary tow truck on a Russian highway. A video taken by a passerby shows the Model 3 engulfed in flames on the side of the road sometime after the collision, when suddenly two loud explosions can be seen and heard.
Over the weekend, businessman Alexey Tretyakov was driving his electric sedan near Moscow when he claims he collided with a parked tow truck. The service vehicle was allegedly stopped on the left-most lane of the busy highway, where it was partially (and dangerously) obstructing the flow of traffic. CCTV footage of the accident shows the vehicle poking into the lane, however, it was not noticed by Tretyakov until the impact was imminent.
Following the accident (and after all three occupants had exited the vehicle), the Model 3 caught on fire.
Both the driver and his children passengers were brought to a local hospital where they were treated and released. Tretyakov reportedly suffered a broken leg while the extent of injuries sustained by the two children is most recently said to be limited to bruising.
Tretyakov reportedly spoke with Igor Antarov, a member of the Moscow Tesla Club and one of the country's first Model 3 owners, following the accident. According to a blog post from Antarov, the driver confirmed that Tesla's semi-autonomous driving software, Autopilot, was engaged at the time of the accident. This mirrors initial reports from police and local news.
Despite his claims, the driver does not blame Autopilot for the accident. He admits to being distracted at the time of the crash and, according to Antarov, notes that he did not engage the brakes; an indication that Tesla's automatic emergency braking may have kicked on just before impact.
Tesla reminds drivers on its website that Autopilot is not intended to be fully self-driving in its current state. The automaker notes that the Autopilot suite is "intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time." In recently published statistics
requested by The Drive, Tesla says that its vehicles are eight times less likely to catch fire during or after a crash than all other fossil-fuel-powered vehicles on the road.