NTSB Criticizes Apple After Fatal Tesla Autopilot Crash for Not Banning Employee Smartphone Use While Driving

The United States National Transportation Safety Board today conducted a hearing dissecting the fatal 2018 crash of Apple engineer Walter Huang, who was using the autopilot feature of a Tesla Model X, reports CNBC.

tesla
The NTSB called Tesla's Autosteer feature "completely inadequate" and said that Tesla's forward collision warning system did not provide an alert, nor did the automatic emergency braking system activate, but the board also had some choice words for Apple.

At the time of the crash, Huang was playing a game on his company-issued development iPhone. He was not paying attention to the road and likely did not have his hands on the steering wheel as the Tesla was in Autopilot mode.

So first let me say, if you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car. Don't pretend that you do. This means that when driving in the supposed "self-driving" mode: you can't sleep; you can't read a book; you can't watch a movie or TV show; you can't text; and, you can't play video games. And, that is precisely what we found in this crash - the driver was playing a video game on his smartphone when his car veered into the median barrier.

In a statement, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt criticized Apple for not having a policy that prevents employees from using their iPhones while driving.

Let me circle back to the issue of driver distraction - one that involves the role of employers. Employers have a critical role in fighting distracted driving. At the NTSB, we believe in leading by example. Over a decade ago, under the leadership of my former colleague and NTSB chairman, Debbie Hersman, NTSB implemented a broad-reaching policy which bans using Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) while driving. We know that such policies save lives.

The driver in this crash was employed by Apple - a tech leader. But when it comes to recognizing the need for a company PED policy, Apple is lagging because they don't have such a policy.

During the hearing, the NTSB said [PDF] that employers play an important role in preventing distracted driving. A strong policy is an effective strategy for cutting down on distracted driving, and Apple has no policy that prohibits cell phone use while driving.

Apple in a response provided to CNBC, said "We expect our employees to follow the law." In California, where the crash took place, there are distracted driving laws that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, even in vehicles with an autopilot mode.

Apple has also implemented a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that activates when a driver attempts to use a cellular phone while driving, though it can be disabled.

The NTSB's goal is to get all employers to implement and enforce policies that ban the use of personal electronic devices while driving.

Tag: Tesla

Top Rated Comments

NightFox Avatar
31 months ago
Can't help thinking that if it's the law, there's no need for a company policy on it. Are companies going to start being criticised for not having policies preventing employees from armed robbery and murdering people?
Score: 104 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mansu944 Avatar
31 months ago
Do I want my employer "protecting" me from everything? I work 10hrs a day...that is enough of them telling me what to do.
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jimbobb24 Avatar
31 months ago
Thats a new low in being ridiculous. My company doesn't have a policy that I don't jump off cliffs, but I don't because I am an adult that doesn't want to die. Why would Apple have such a policy? Should they have a helmet with motorcycle policy? A don't drink don't drive policy? Companies are jobs, not our moms.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WilliamG Avatar
31 months ago

Criticizes Apple....... In a Tesla Car Crashed by Autopilot....
Criticizes Tesla.... in a car which tells you each and EVERY time you enable AutoPilot to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road and be prepared to take over at any moment.

The blame is solely on the driver, based on the information provided.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ksec Avatar
31 months ago
Criticizes Apple....... In a Tesla Car Crashed by Autopilot....
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rudy69 Avatar
31 months ago
It has nothing to do with the employer. The individual in question was the one possibly breaking the law (distracted driving, if that applies where the accident took place).

Should my employer have a policy on driving over the speed limit? Food delivery places would like a word with you lol
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

macbook air m2

Exclusive: Apple Plans to Launch MacBook Air With M2 Chip on July 15

Wednesday June 29, 2022 5:23 pm PDT by
The redesigned MacBook Air with the all-new M2 Apple silicon chip will be available for customers starting Friday, July 15, MacRumors has learned from a retail source. The new MacBook Air was announced and previewed during WWDC earlier this month, with Apple stating availability will begin in July. The MacBook Air features a redesigned body that is thinner and lighter than the previous...
original iphone 2007

15 Years Ago Today, the iPhone Went On Sale

Wednesday June 29, 2022 4:43 am PDT by
Fifteen years ago to this day, the iPhone, the revolutionary device presented to the world by the late Steve Jobs, officially went on sale. The first iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and went on sale on June 29, 2007. "An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator... these are not three separate devices," Jobs famously said. "Today, Apple is going to reinvent the...
maxresdefault

Video Comparison: M2 MacBook Pro vs. M1 MacBook Pro

Tuesday June 28, 2022 2:45 pm PDT by
Apple last week launched an updated version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and it is the first Mac that is equipped with an updated M2 chip. As it's using a brand new chip, we thought we'd pick up the M2 MacBook Pro and compare it to the prior-generation M1 MacBook Pro to see just what's new. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. For the video comparison, we're using the...
iPhone vs Galaxy Larger

Apple Executive Says Samsung Copied the iPhone and Simply 'Put a Bigger Screen Around It'

Tuesday June 28, 2022 8:59 am PDT by
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern today shared a new documentary about the evolution of the iPhone ahead of the 15th anniversary of the device launching on June 29, 2007. The documentary includes an interview with Apple's marketing chief Greg Joswiak, iPhone co-creator Tony Fadell, and a family of iPhone users. One segment of the interview reflects on Android smartphones gaining larger...
iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro vs. 14 Pro: New Features to Expect if You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday June 27, 2022 11:22 am PDT by
With many customers choosing to upgrade their iPhone every two or three years nowadays, there are lots of iPhone 11 Pro users who might be interested in upgrading to the iPhone 14 Pro later this year. Those people are in for a treat, as three years of iPhone generations equals a long list of new features and changes to look forward to. Below, we've put together a list of new features and...
Mac Studio IO

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished Mac Studio Models

Thursday June 30, 2022 7:42 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling refurbished Mac Studio models for the first time in the United States, Canada, and select European countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In the United States, two refurbished Mac Studio configurations are currently available, including one with the M1 Max chip (10-core CPU and 24-core GPU) for...
rootbug

Major macOS High Sierra Bug Allows Full Admin Access Without Password - How to Fix [Updated]

Tuesday November 28, 2017 12:33 pm PST by
There appears to be a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that enables the root superuser on a Mac with a blank password and no security check. The bug, discovered by developer Lemi Ergin, lets anyone log into an admin account using the username "root" with no password. This works when attempting to access an administrator's account on an unlocked Mac, and it also provides access at the login...