Tesla on Autopilot crashes into stopped police car just as it is being investigated for similar crashes
by Fred Lambert
August 30, 2021
A Tesla vehicle on Autopilot has crashed into a police car stopped on the highway just as the automaker is being investigated for similar crashes. Earlier this month, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it’s opening an investigation into Tesla Autopilot over its possible involvement in 11 crashes with emergency and first responder vehicles.
The crashes all involve stopped emergency vehicles, like police cars and fire trucks, on the side of the road. Autopilot is a suite of driver-assist features that mainly enable Tesla vehicles to stay in their lane and adapt cruise control to traffic speed on the highway.
Drivers using the features are asked to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to take control at all times.
The system has been known to have issues detecting and stopping for stationary objects on the side of the road, and not just emergency vehicles – though those are more often stopped on the highway, where Autopilot can be activated.
NHTSA is focusing on emergency vehicles after the frequency of crashes involving those vehicles and Tesla vehicles on Autopilot appear to have increased recently.
Out of the 11 crashes mentioned in their investigation announcement, four happened in 2021. Now adding to the situation, a new crash involving a Tesla vehicle reportedly on Autopilot and a police car happened over the weekend in Florida.
According to the report, the officer responding to the disabled vehicle was unhurt while the 27-year-old Tesla driver and the driver of the stopped vehicle both suffered minor injuries. The new crash is likely to add to the pressure and scrutiny that Tesla is under over the investigation.
Following the announcement of the NHTSA investigation, US senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), who have both previously been critical of Tesla’s Autopilot, contacted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to alert them of what they say are misleading claims by Tesla regarding Autopilot and its Full Self-Driving package.