On two such occasions, she had her hands off the wheel for more than one minute each time and her hands came back on only after a visual alert was provided.
In this Friday, May 11, 2018, photo released by the South Jordan Police Department shows a traffic collision involving a Tesla Model S sedan with a Fire Department mechanic truck stopped at a red light in South Jordan, Utah.
"While Tesla's Autopilot feature indicates that a driver must be attentive at all times, the driver admitted that she was looking at her phone prior to the collision".
Although the driver miraculously only sustained a broken foot, the potential for lethal consequences was present when considering the decimation of the Tesla's front end.
"When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times", a Tesla spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
It is at least the second Tesla crash linked to the semi-autonomous Autopilot system being investigated by the government agency since January. "She did not touch the steering wheel for the next 80 seconds until the crash happened; this is consistent with her admission that she was looking at her phone at the time". The family of driver Walter Huang alleged that he had taken the vehicle in to the dealer several times, and had complained that Autopilot kept steering him toward the same barrier he ended up hitting.
Minutes later he added, "What's actually incredible about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60mph and the driver only broke an ankle".
"About 1 minute and 22 seconds before the crash, she re-enabled Autosteer and Cruise Control, and then, within seconds, took her hands off the steering wheel again", the police report says.
FOX 13 is waiting to hear from NHTSA and Tesla for additional details.
The Utah driver was issued a traffic citation for "failure to keep proper lookout" under South Jordan City municipal code.
The vehicle was traveling at about 60 miles per hour when the crash happened. Against eyewitness reports, the car's computer did reportedly register brake pedal application, as well as her hands' return to the wheel, but the reaction was too little, too late.
Earlier Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was sending investigators to Utah and would "take appropriate action based on its review'".
The National Transportation Safety Board, a separate government agency that looks into accidents and makes safety recommendations, has said it is not investigating the Utah crash.
Also, the Autopilot technology that monitors whether a driver has their hands on the steering wheel isn't a good way to tell if the driver is paying attention, the NTSB said.