A Tesla Model S crashed into yet another fire truck resulting in two injuries in San Jose earlier today.
The driver said that he “thought the Model S was on Autopilot”, but he was arrested under suspicion of drunk driving.
I have to say “yet another fire truck” because it is the third accident involving Tesla vehicles reportedly on Autopilot and fire trucks this year alone.
It happened in Culver City last January and again in San Jose a few months later.
Now the San Jose Fire Fighters are complaining of another accident that happened early this morning.
They reported on Twitter that a Tesla vehicle rear-ended one of their fire engines again:
TESLA near miss! For the 2nd time in recent months SJ FF’s escaped serious injury as a @teslamotors “Zero Emissions” vehicle slammed into the back of a #SJFD FireEngine @ 70 MPH on Hwy 101 at 1am – Reportedly the vehicle was in auto mode but auto braking system was not engaged. pic.twitter.com/gDQzXrFZ5S
— SanJoseFireFighters (@SJFirefighters) August 25, 2018
The media started reporting earlier today that Autopilot might be involved in the crash.
We contacted Tesla about the situation and the company responded with the following statement:
“Tesla has not yet received any data from the car, but we are working to establish the facts of the incident.”
A few hours later, things got more complicated because the Tesla driver, 37-year-old Michael Tran of Monterey, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
NBC reported that the police report makes note that Tran blamed Autopilot when talking to the police officers:
“Tran told officers “I think I had auto-pilot on,” but it was unclear whether the Tesla was in self-driving mode when it crashed into the firetruck. The collision sent Tran and his passenger, 26-year-old Yorleyda Londono of Monterey, to San Jose Region Medical Center with minor injuries.”
Of course, Autopilot is not a “self-driving mode” as mentioned in the article. It is a driver assist system and drivers are always responsible for their vehicle when using the Autopilot’s features.
It’s not the first time an allegedly drunk Tesla driver has tried to use the Autopilot card to get out of it.
To be honest, I find it hard to believe that these people don’t understand what Autopilot can do under its current form and really think that they could get in their car drunk because they had Autopilot.
I think they are just doing everything they can to get out of a bad situation that they created themselves.
That said, Tesla should still be interested in the data from this accident because even though Autopilot most likely had nothing to do with the cause, automatic emergency braking (AEB) should still have been a factor.
According to the fire department, it didn’t activate, but it’s important to keep in mind that AEB sometimes activates to reduce the impact of the accident and not necessarily avoid it completely if it can’t.
Though we don’t have enough information right now to know for sure what happened in this case.