Autonomous Tesla Crashes into Police Cruiser

Autonomous Tesla Crashes into Police Cruiser

The reputation of self-driving features in cars has taken yet another hit with reports of one hitting a police car in California recently emerging.

A self-driving sedan from Tesla hit a parked police car on May 29 in Laguna Beach, according to Live Science. The vehicle was on semi-autonomous autopilot at the time, so there was a human driver behind the wheel. Luckily, the police car was empty at the time of the crash, and the driver in the Tesla only had minor injuries.

According to Jim Cota, a sergeant with the police department in Laguna Beach, the police car was totaled, so the department is grateful that no one was inside of it at the time. Cota noted that there was a similar accident in Laguna Beach last year, when a self-driving Tesla smashed into a semi-truck.

This is another instance in a string of recent autonomous-mode car crashes. There was a crash involving a Tesla on autopilot in Utah during which the driver was on her phone; a fatal crash in California earlier this year when a Model X from Tesla hit a barrier; and another fatal crash in Florida two years ago, which was the first known crash involving a Tesla on autopilot.

Tesla has reportedly issued a warning to drivers about its autopilot feature, advising them to keep their hands on the wheel and stay alert while using this setting. Drivers also have to accept a statement that says the mode is only meant for use on highways that have clear markings for lanes and a divider in the center before they can use autopilot.

As news outlets have been reporting with increasing frequency, Tesla is not the only manufacturer struggling with self-driving features. Last year, a self-driving Uber car hit and killed a pedestrian as she was crossing the street in Arizona. The National Transportation Safety Board recently released its preliminary report on that accident, which states the system on the car detected the victim six seconds before hitting her. She was first identified as an unknown object, then as another car and ultimately as a bicycle; she was walking her bike across the street. At 1.3 seconds before impact, the car recognized it needed to emergency brake to avoid the crash, but the system was set up for the driver to take control in that scenario, and it didn’t happen. The vehicle also failed to issue an emergency brake warning to the driver.

While the rash of self-driving car accidents may make them appear as public menaces, it is worth noting the sample size for these incidents is far smaller than human-caused ones. Car accidents caused by humans are so common that they don’t all make the national news. With this technology still in its early stages, it’s simply too soon to tell if self-driving features will ultimately make cars safer, which is what many safety experts currently believe.

Car accidents can have devastating consequences for everyone involved. Contact a lawyer, like an auto accident attorney Denver trusts, about your case if you’ve been injured in a crash.



Thanks to our friends and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into auto accident cases.

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