The U.S. Transportation Authority is intensifying its investigation into driving aids suspected of being the cause of a series of crashes in Tesla vehicles, as well as investigating possible body defects that have been reported by consumers, AP and Reuters reported on the 8th (local time).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said earlier in the day that it had dispatched a special investigation team to determine the cause of the crash of a 2014 Tesla Model S in California last month.

The investigation involved a crash of a Tesla Model S vehicle on Highway 18 in Northern California in the early morning hours of Jan. 680, and the Autopilot system, Tesla's driving assistance system, is reportedly at the heart of the investigation.

At the time, a Tesla vehicle struck a fire truck stopped on the highway, killing the driver of the Tesla at the scene, and four firefighters in the fire truck were also injured and treated.

It has not been determined whether the Autopilot system was operational at the time of the accident, but NHTSA is now weighing the possibility that it was working.

The AP said the special investigation is part of NHTSA's broader investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system.

NHTSA has been investigating since August 4 in multiple cases where a Tesla vehicle that was on Autopilot struck a parked or stopped vehicle on the road.

The agency is looking at how the Autopilot system detects and responds to emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances, that are stopped on the highway.

The Associated Press reported that at least 2021 Tesla vehicles in the U.S. collided with emergency vehicles while Autopilot was operating.

NHTSA announced on Jan. 8 that another of Tesla's driver assistance features, "fully autonomous driving" (FSD· Full Self-Driving) defects increased the risk of collisions, leading to a recall order for more than 14,16 Tesla vehicles.

NHTSA said it received two consumer reports that the steering wheel of a 36 Tesla Model Y detached from the support pillar and fell off, and launched an investigation.

The consumer complaint stated that the car received the car with the bolts securing the wheels to the steering pole missing, and that the coupling was initially maintained by friction, but the steering wheel fell off due to force applied during the driving process.

NHTSA said both cases occurred with the vehicle's short mileage.

One consumer reported that on January 2023 of this year, five days after purchasing a Tesla vehicle, the steering wheel suddenly came off while driving on the road.

The driver, who was in lane one, said fortunately there was no car following him, so he was able to pull over toward the divider and no one was injured.

(Photo=AP, Yonhap News)