Earlier today in Culver City, California, a Tesla Model S rear-ended a fire truck at a reported speed of 65 mph while the vehicle was on Autopilot, according to the driver.
Remarkably, no one was injured in the accident even though the Model S’ front-end embedded itself deep under the truck as seen in pictures below.
The Culver City Fire Department reported the accident on Twitter earlier today and used the hashtag “distracteddriving”. They said that it happened while they were already working on a freeway accident on the 405.
The firefighters are the ones who reported that the driver claimed his Model S was on Autopilot during the accident:
In response to a request for comment, a Tesla spokesperson didn’t address the specific accident, but they pointed out that Autopilot requires the attention of the driver:
“Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver.”
The fire truck had some damage to its rear and the Model S’ front-end was completely destroyed, but it apparently didn’t reach the cabin.
The Model S is known to be amongst the safest cars when it comes to front-end collision due to its large crumple zone. The lack of engine at the front serves to absorb the energy in the instance of a crash instead of pushing on the cabin.
We have seen many examples of important accidents that amazingly didn’t result in severe injuries, like a spectacular Tesla Model S crash after flying 82+ft in the air, which also showed the importance of a large crumple zone.
Just last week when we reported on the Tesla driver who blamed Autopilot during a DUI stop, we were saying that there was a period of time over a year ago when accidents in Tesla vehicles were often blamed on Autopilot despite drivers being told that they are always responsible of their cars.
It appeared to have ended after more education about the driver assist system, but it now looks like it could very well come back.
With this said, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the driver blamed this accident on Autopilot. He only reported to the firefighters that it was active during the accident.
As usual, drivers should always stay vigilant when on Autopilot, which is only a driver assist system under its current version. The system is equipped with features like automatic braking, but it is not made to prevent all accidents. It is especially good at reducing the force of an impact in the case of an accident if the driver is not quick enough to apply the brakes themselves.
It’s not clear if it worked for this particular accident.
On a completely irrelevant note, that was a cool-looking blacked-out Model S with chrome delete.