Elon Musk Faces More Scrutiny After 'Full-Self-Driving' Tesla Causes Massive Pileup Crash

The problems continue to mount for Elon Musk. According to a California Highway Patrol traffic crash report, a driver told police their Tesla's "full-self-driving" software braked unexpectedly last month, causing an eight-car pileup in the Bay Area, where nine people were treated for minor injuries, including one juvenile. Reports obtained by CNN Business on Dec. 21 indicate that California Highway Patrol reviewed videos showing the Tesla vehicle slowed down to a stop after changing lanes before crashing. In its Dec. 7 report, the California Highway Patrol said it could not confirm whether "full self-driving" was active during the crash. In a statement to CNN Business, a highway patrol spokesperson said they could not determine whether "full self-driving" was active and that information would be provided by Tesla instead. According to the report, the Tesla Model S was traveling at about 55 mph when it shifted into the far left-hand lane but then abruptly slowed to about 20 mph when it braked suddenly. Eight vehicles were involved in a chain reaction that ultimately caused them all to crash, all of whom had been traveling at typical highway speeds at the time. 

The accident occurred just hours after Tesla CEO Musk announced that the company's driver-assist software is now available to any North American driver who requests it. Tesla had previously only allowed access to drivers with high safety ratings. "Full self-driving" maintains a constant speed with traffic, steers in the lane, and adheres to traffic signals. It requires an attentive human driver who is prepared to take full control of the car at any moment. When Tesla installs "full self-driving," it warns drivers that it "may do the wrong thing at the worst time." Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Tesla's autopilot and "full self-driving" technologies for unexpected braking that occurs "without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive." NHTSA has received hundreds of complaints from Tesla owners, some describing near-collisions and safety concerns. This summer, the agency upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis, indicating that a recall is likely. A few days after the Thanksgiving Day crash, NHTSA told CNN Business it was gathering additional information from Tesla and law enforcement. 

This latest issue adds to the multitude of bizarre issues plaguing Musk during his tenure as Twitter's CEO, including his seemingly flippant changes to the platform's interface, not to mention his relentless slashing of its staff. Recently, Musk claimed he would step down as CEO after asking if he should leave the position in a Dec. 18 poll, in which 57.5 percent of Twitter users answered in the affirmative. It's unclear whether Musk will do so, but CNBC reports that many critics view Twitter as a distraction from Musk's other businesses, notably Tesla, where stock prices have fallen dramatically. On Tuesday, long-time Tesla investor Ross Gerber tweeted about the issue, apparently calling for Musk to resign from the company as well. "Tesla stock price now reflects the value of having no CEO. Great job tesla BOD – Time for a shake up," he wrote. Musk responded in tweets of his own, suggesting that Tesla's nosedive is attributable to macroeconomic factors rather than his own performance.