information in this report is preliminary and will be
or corrected during the course of the investigation.
4:40 p.m. eastern daylight time on Saturday, May 7, 2016, a 2015 Tesla Model S,
traveling eastbound on US Highway 27A (US-27A), west of Williston, Florida, struck
and passed beneath a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck-tractor in combination
with a 53-foot semitrailer. At the time of the collision, the combination
vehicle was making a left turn from westbound US-27A across the two eastbound
travel lanes onto NE 140th Court, a local paved road. As a result of the
initial impact, the battery disengaged from the electric motors powering the car.
After exiting from underneath the semitrailer, the car coasted at a shallow
angle off the right side of the roadway, traveled approximately 297 feet, and then
collided with a utility pole. The car broke the pole and traveled an additional
50 feet, during which it rotated counterclockwise and came to rest
perpendicular to the highway in the front yard of a private residence. The
40-year-old male driver and sole occupant of the Tesla died as a result of the
US-27A is a four-lane
highway with a posted speed limit of 65 mph. A 75-foot-wide median separates the
two eastbound lanes from the two westbound lanes. Additionally, at the
uncontrolled intersection with NE 140th Court, both eastbound and westbound lanes
incorporate left turn lanes, allowing for a median opening of about 132 feet. At
the time of the crash, it was daylight with clear and dry weather conditions. Figure
1 shows the crash scene intersection.
Crash scene intersection, looking east.
combination vehicle¾operated by Okemah Express, LLC¾was
transporting blueberries to a local produce farm. The Tesla struck the right
side of the semitrailer, approximately 23 feet forward from the end of the
trailer. Damage from the collision was consistent with a 90 degree angle of
impact. Only minor damage above the height of the car was found on the semitrailer
side panels, and the undercarriage of the trailer also showed only minor collision
damage. Figure 2 shows the right side of the semitrailer at point of impact.
Right side of semitrailer. Area in red oval highlights collision damage
from passenger car.
system performance data downloaded from the car indicated that vehicle speed
just prior to impact was 74 mph. System performance data also revealed that the
driver was operating the car using the advanced driver assistance features
Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping assistance. The car was
also equipped with automatic emergency braking that is designed to
automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of or assist in avoiding frontal
As a result of the
crash, the rear hatch frame separated and folded back over the crushed rear
window. Other than the roof structure¾and the front bumper components that engaged the
pole¾the main body of the
car was generally intact, as shown in figure 3.
Figure 3. Passenger car damage from impact with semitrailer. (Source:
Florida Highway Patrol.)
three-dimensional laser scanning technology, NTSB investigators documented the
crash location, the damaged semitrailer, and the damaged car. The Tesla was equipped
with multiple electronic systems capable of recording and transmitting vehicle performance
data. NTSB investigators will continue to collect and analyze these data, and
use it along with other information collected during the investigation in evaluating
the crash events.
All aspects of the
crash remain under investigation. The Florida Highway Patrol and Tesla Motors
are parties to the ongoing investigation.