Tesla is in hot water again over Autopilot-related crashes.

Consumer-safety advocates and autonomous-vehicle experts reportedly criticised the car maker for issuing another statement about the death of a customer that pinned the blame on driver inattentiveness.

Bloomberg said days after publishing a second blog post about the crash involving Walter Huang, a 38-year-old who died last month in his Model X, Tesla issued a statement in response to his family speaking with San Francisco television station ABC7. The company said the "only" explanation for the crash was "if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so."

"I find it shocking," Cathy Chase, president of the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told Bloomberg. "They're claiming that the only way for this accident to have occurred is for Mr. Huang to be not paying attention. Where do I start? That's not the only way."

Bloomberg noted groups including Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Consumer Reports have criticised Tesla for years for naming its driver-assistance system Autopilot, with the latter calling on the company to choose a different name back in July 2016. The two organisations share the view of the National Transportation Safety Board, which has urged carmakers to do more to ensure drivers using partially autonomous systems like Autopilot remain engaged with the task of driving. The US agency is in the midst of two active investigations into Autopilot-related crashes.

Chase claimed it was Tesla's responsibility to provide adequate safeguards against driver misuse of Autopilot, including by sending visual and audible warnings when the system needs a human to take back over. "If they're not effective in getting someone to re-engage - as they say that their drivers have to - then they're not doing their job."

Bloomberg said Tesla has declined to say how long drivers can now use Autopilot between visual or audible warnings to have a hand on the wheel. It's also refused to comment on how many alerts can be ignored before the system disengages, what version of Autopilot software was in Huang's Model X, or when the car was built.

"Just because a driver does something stupid doesn't mean they - or others who are truly blameless - should be condemned to an otherwise preventable death," Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina's School of Law, who studies driverless-car regulations, told Bloomberg. "One might consider whether there are better ways to prevent drivers from hurting themselves or, worse, others."

In its latest statement, Tesla said it was "extremely clear" that Autopilot requires drivers to be alert and have hands on the steering wheel. The system reminds the driver this every time it's engaged, according to the company.

"Tesla's response is reflective of its ongoing strategy of doubling down on the explicit warnings it has given to drivers on how to use, and not use, the system," Mike Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner, told Bloomberg. "It's not the first time Tesla has taken this stance."

According to Bloomberg, Huang's wife told ABC7 he had complained before the fatal crash his Model X had steered towards the same highway barrier he collided with on 23 March. The family has hired law firm Minami Tamaki which said in a statement it believes Tesla's Autopilot is defective and likely caused Huang's death.