Right side of car, showing severe crash and fire damage.

​Right side of car, showing severe crash and fire damage.​​

Collision with postcrash fire involving an electric passenger vehicle

What Happened

​On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at 6:46 p.m., a 2014 Tesla Model S electric-powered car occupied by an 18-year-old driver and two 18-year-old passengers was traveling south in the 1300 block of Seabreeze Boulevard, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at a recorded speed of 116 mph. The driver and his passengers were on their way to the driver’s residence from a nearby shopping mall, a trip of about 4 miles.

In this area, Seabreeze Boulevard consists of two northbound and two southbound lanes divided by a center turn lane. The posted speed limit is 30 mph. At the crash location, the roadway curves to the left for southbound traffic. The approach to the curve has a turn-warning sign indicating that the roadway turns left, augmented by a flashing beacon and a posted advisory speed of 25 mph.

According to witnesses, the driver had maneuvered the car into the left lane and was passing another vehicle. The driver lost control while moving back into the right lane as he attempted to negotiate the curve. As the car exited the curve, it struck and mounted the curb on the west side of the road, crossed the sidewalk, and continued south, striking a wall on the north side of a residential driveway. The car continued forward and struck the wall on the south side of the driveway. Witnesses reported that flames came from the car after the second collision.

​The car reentered the road, mounted the curb on the east side of Seabreeze Boulevard, struck a metal light pole, rotated, and came to rest in the driveway of an adjacent residence. The car was engulfed in fire. Both the driver and the front passenger died in the crash. The rear passenger was ejected during the crash and was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. At the time of the crash, it was daylight, the weather was clear, and the road was dry.

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the single-vehicle run-off-road crash and postcrash fire in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was the driver’s loss of control as a result of excessive speed. Contributing to the severity of the injuries was the postcrash fire originating in the crash-damaged lithium-ion traction battery.​