Photo of Impact damage to passenger side and fire damage to vehicle interior.

​Impact damage to passenger side and fire damage to vehicle interior​​.

Electric Vehicle Run-off-Road Crash and Postcrash Fire

What Happened

​On Monday, September 13, 2021, about 8:54 p.m. eastern daylight time, a 2021 Tesla Model 3, Long Range-Dual Motor electric car, occupied by a 20-year-old driver and 19-year-old passenger, was traveling north on Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida. The weather was clear, the road was dry, and the area was illuminated by streetlamps. As the car approached the signalized intersection with Coral Way, it accelerated, shifted into the southbound lane to pass another car, and then reentered the northbound lane. After this passing maneuver, the car continued to accelerate, running the red light. The driver then lost control, departed the roadway, and struck two trees in the center median. Both the driver and the passenger died. A postcrash fire engulfed the car; firefighters faced challenges in extinguishing the fire and reported that the car’s batteries reignited at least once. 

What We Found

​The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the Coral Gables, Florida, crash was the driver’s decision to travel at an excessive speed, which led to the failure of the driver to control his car.​

Lessons Learned

​​Speeding is one of the most common factors associated with motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The NTSB has advocated for a comprehensive strategy that includes vehicle technologies, such as intelligent speed adaptation, to help reduce crashes caused by excessive speed. “Implement a Comprehensive Strategy to Eliminate Speeding-Related Crashes” is an issue area on the NTSB’s current Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.

Electric vehicle fires remain a challenge for emergency responders. Although the first responders to this crash extinguished the initial fire and managed reignition events safely, their response did not include consulting a vehicle-specific emergency response guide. The NTSB has recommended to manufacturers of electric vehicles equipped with high-voltage lithium-ion batteries that they provide their emergency response guides for how to extinguish electric vehicle fires in a standardized format, and also that they provide vehicle-specific information for safely extinguishing fires, mitigating reignition events, and transporting and storing damaged vehicles.   ​​