Tesla vehicle on ‘autopilot’ crashes into deputy’s vehicle that was parked on the side of the road


ARLINGTON, WA – A driver in a Tesla that was on “autopilot” reportedly hit a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office patrol SUV while it was parked on the side of a road Saturday night.

The deputy was parked on the shoulder at the scene of another accident with his emergency lights flashing. The deputy exited his patrol SUV to speak with medics and firefighters when the 2015 Tesla Model S crashed into the vehicle.

There were no injuries. The driver was cited for causing or permitting the vehicle to be unlawfully operated.

The Washington State Patrol is investigating the crash and reminded people that, even if a vehicle is in “autopilot,” drivers are “still required to be paying attention to the road and ready for hazards.”

The sheriff’s office posted a statement on Facebook:

“This is a great reminder that vehicles may have autopilot to assist, but it cannot be relied upon to get you safely from one destination to the next.”

The Tesla website warns drivers that, even though the car can steer itself under normal situations, drivers are still responsible for safety:

“Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that enhances safety and convenience behind the wheel. When used properly, Autopilot reduces your overall workload as a driver.

“Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment. While these features are designed to become more capable over time, the currently enabled features do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

There have been several crashes involving Tesla’s autopilot feature, including a fatal crash in 2018.

The fatal crash occurred when a Tesla Model X crashed into a concrete divider in California. Tesla determined that the autopilot was activated with adaptive cruise control follow-distance feature set to minimum.

Tesla said the driver took no action to avoid the crash despite a five-second view of the barrier before impact:

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision.”

The National Transportation Safety Board in March 2020 blamed the crash on limitations of the Autopilot system, the 38-year-old driver who was playing a phone video game at the time of the crash, and inattentiveness.

In 2019, a 50-year-old Tesla driver died after his Tesla Model 3 struck a tractor-trailer in Delray Beach, Florida, while was using Autopilot. The NTSB found that the system was a contributing factor in the crash.

Despite the crashes, Tesla argues that its vehicle features make driving safer and can save 900,00 lives. The company claims travelers will be ten times safer in an autonomous car than a non-autonomous car:

“Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists.

“No one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did. The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe. There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide.

“If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.”

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Tesla on autopilot crashes into CT State Trooper and disabled vehicle. “Driver” blames car, gets ticket anyway.

December 8, 2019


NORWALK, CT- Elon Musk has been all over the news lately with his latest vehicle release, but this time around, he and his car company are back in a not so pleasant spotlight regarding Tesla’s self-driving features. 

A Tesla in Norwalk, Connecticut that was – according to the driver – engaged in autopilot mode had rear-ended a Connecticut trooper’s vehicle early Saturday morning. Luckily, no one was hurt in the crash. 

According to state police, the operator of the self-driving Tesla was checking on his dog in the back seat when the vehicle crashed into the trooper’s car.

Police said they had responded to a disabled vehicle that was stopped in the middle of Interstate 95. While waiting for a tow, the self-driving Tesla came down the road.

After striking the trooper’s vehicle, the driver in the Tesla then rear-ended the disabled vehicle that the trooper was tending to, before coming to a complete stop. According to authorities:

“The operator of the Tesla continued to slowly travel northbound before being stopped several hundred feet ahead by the second trooper on scene. The operator of the Tesla stated that he had his vehicle on ‘Auto-pilot’ and explained that he was checking on his dog which was in the back seat prior to hitting the collision.”

According to police, the cruiser had also its emergency lights on at the time of the incident. The driver of the vehicle in this case was issued a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

Still, leaving the driving to the car could have demonstrated far worse outcomes. Officials speculated on this very notion when they stated:

“Fortunately, no one involved was seriously injured, but it is apparent that this incident could have been more severe. Regardless of your vehicle’s capabilities, when operating a vehicle your full attention is required at all times to ensure safe driving.”

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Self-driving Teslas have been a topic of scrutiny over the years since they were unveiled, and while this latest incident levied no serious injuries or fatalities, previous ones have.

In Williston, Florida, back in May of 2016, a Tesla engaged in autopilot mode crashed into an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, killing the driver of the Tesla.

An investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated the crash occurred when the tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the 2015 Tesla model S at an intersection, and the car failed to apply the brakes. 

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