Footage Shows Tesla in Eight-Car Pileup After Stopping for No Reason

The Thanksgiving Day crash injured nine people, including a two-year-old child, and left traffic stopped for more than an hour.

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Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Anyone feeling overly confident about Tesla’s current driver-assist capabilities should probably sit down and take a look at this footage of a Model S allegedly engaged in Full-Self Driving mode seemingly single-handedly sparking an eight-car pile-up on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.

Multiple angles of the traffic footage, obtained by The Intercept via a public record request, show the Tesla engage its left indicator and switch lanes before suddenly slamming on the brakes and coming to a complete stop. A rapidly approaching vehicle trailing the Tesla fails to brake in time and smashes into the Model S’s rear. A pileup ensues as fast-moving vehicles in the five-lane road swerve to avoid the collision. Though the exact causes of the crash are still under investigation, the Tesla’s sudden stoppage eerily resembles an alarming number of “phantom braking” complaints raised by other Tesla owners, where their vehicles unexpectedly engage their brakes.


Previous reports claim the wreckage left nine people injured, including a two-year-old, and blocked traffic for over an hour. The driver reportedly told police that Tesla’s Full-Self Driving mode was engaged at the time of the accident though the officer who wrote the crash report said he was unable to verify the claims. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into the crash. Making matters worse, the crash occurred just hours after CEO Elon Musk sent out an enthusiastic tweet alerting customers of FSD’s availability to anyone in North America. Musk called the moment a, “major milestone.”


The dramatic crash footage comes as Tesla finds itself knee-deep in federal investigations probing numerous accidents attributed to the company’s driverless tech and alleged misstatement of the software’s capability spewed the company’s part-time CEO. On Monday, NHTSA acting head Ann Carlson told Reuters the administration was working “really fast” and devoting significant resources to wrap up its years-long investigation into Tesla’s driver assistance tech launched in 2021. Additionally, the NHTSA told Gizmodo this week it’s looking into a recent tweet from Musk where he responded to a user who said he believed FSD users with more than 1,000 hours logged should be able to run off an alert reminding them to keep their hands on the steering wheel. Musk replied, in typically cryptic fashion, “agreed, update coming in Jan.”


The recent Tesla pileup footage is bad news for anyone looking to Tesla to reinvigorate a somewhat stalling driverless tech industry. Late last year, Ford-backed Argo AI, one of the most promising startups in the industry, suddenly shut down operations citing a longer-than-expected road to profitability and scale. Driverless tech, normally rampant at the Consumer Electronics Show, was reportedly in short supply this year. All the while actual consumer confidence in the tech remains low. A majority of U.S. adults (63%) surveyed by Pew Research last year said they would not want to ride in driverless vehicles while 44% said they believed the tech’s widespread use would be, “bad for society.”