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Tesla Crashes into Cop Car After Launch of NHTSA Autopilot Investigation

A Tesla operating on Autopilot hit a Florida Highway Patrol car Saturday, according to a report.

The Orlando Sun Sentinal reported that a trooper was helping a disabled vehicle in the westbound lanes of I-4 near downtown Orlando. With his emergency lights on, the trooper was helping the driver when the Tesla hit the left side of his car. There were no injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced early this month an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

The agency pointed to 11 crashes since January 2018 where Tesla models operating on Autopilot “have encountered first responder scenes and subsequently struck one or more vehicles involved with those scenes.” The agency said the accidents caused 17 injuries and one death.

“Most incidents took place after dark and the crash scenes encountered included scene control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board, and road cones,” the investigation summary said. “The involved subject vehicles were all confirmed to have been engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes.”

The investigation includes about 765,000 Tesla vehicles in the U.S., applying to the entire lineup since 2014.

Image: Flordia Highway Patrol

thinktwice

Member
Oct 17, 2018
45
47
Frisco, TX
I'd love to know how many non-Tesla vehicles have struck stopped highway patrol cars to provide some context. We all know patrolmen use the popular technique of intentionally pointing the nose of the patrol car out and sometimes into the traffic lane to prevent sideswipes when interacting with the driver they pulled over.

With that said, the Tesla driver is 100% to blame. He/she should've seen the emergency lights and immediately taken control (assuming Autopilot really was engaged).
 

hill

Active Member
Apr 21, 2015
1,334
692
Lake Forest, CA
There's a thread somewhere here on TMC that lists how many of these dramas were done by drivers arrested for DUI / DWI. It makes one realize how many folks must be hitting the weed / booze / pills prior to jumping into the driver's seat (or in dire need of getting some rest, other than while driving). Still . . . per million miles? Despite the drunkards? The tesla is still ahead of the game when it comes to keeping (even $h1t faced) drivers out of harm's way.

According to "this" .... as an example


after just a brief scan, there are 10's of thousands of emergency vehicles in accidents, many with fatalities
will the investigators determine which manufacturer per million miles needs to improve it's record? or is it just about tesla
.
 
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Oldrocky

Member
Jul 17, 2021
81
6
Burlington, Wa.
Hmmm - I'd like to see statistics about the frequency of using Autopilot. Such as
"miles driven in Autopilot" compared to "miles driven not in Autopilot".
I know we are all "techies" (we own a Tesla!) but that doesn't mean we are using
Autopilot whenever it is available. Many of us are not doing that (myself included).

Finally - it seems premature, to me, to be using Autopilot and not being totally
on the alert/monitoring the car at ALL times. This is pretty new technology and
the part of it that isn't fully understood is "the human element" (with respect to
any car using any kind of autopilot). My proof for that is just above - the stats
are that 11 crashes of Tesla vehicles in situations involving an emergency
vehicle ... that seems like a lot to me.
Yes, I know that using Autopilot requires the driver to "monitor the vehicle" at
all times ... and react/respond/take control when needed ... I get that. What I'm
talking about is how often ("11") that the drivers are -not- doing that (not
monitoring and taking control). It seems to me that the existence of Autopilot
is 'creating' ("seducing"?) Tesla drivers to not do the right thing.
At a minimum - it would seem that that number ("11") indicates that there
-might- be a need for a software update that adapts Autopilot to this particular
situation. Geez, how can it be for the car (sensors) to detect emergency lights?
Can't the car do stuff like flash (brightly) -and- sound ("Emergency Lights Ahead"?)?

- Jim (new owner - has NEVER used Autopilot ... yet)
 

helvio

E-TARDIS
Aug 11, 2020
409
554
Phoenixville, PA
At a minimum - it would seem that that number ("11") indicates that there
-might- be a need for a software update that adapts Autopilot to this particular
situation. Geez, how can it be for the car (sensors) to detect emergency lights?
Can't the car do stuff like flash (brightly) -and- sound ("Emergency Lights Ahead"?)?
This makes sense, but it's not a quick feature update. Driving is a complex task and adding a feature that both "detects all emergency vehicles" and "does not detect anything else as emergency vehicles" is extremely complex. Therefore, the safe path is to rely on the human factor for these unusual scenarios (one may argue that it happens quite frequently, but is it honestly more frequent than a left turn or a red light?).

I personally think Tesla is doing a great job by not reacting to those things. They stand their ground that the driver is responsible. Whether you like it or not, it's the law and what every user agreed to. And I respect that they are sticking to their own timelines while delivering some functionality in between - with all the disclaimers they need.
 

JustJohn

Member
Jun 24, 2021
47
58
Greenville, SC
Although they are controversial, they are not illegal. Drunk driving is illegal.
You shouldn't drift from the main point here that the car is not autonomous and the driver is still 100% responsible for everything that happens.
I hardly see that as drifting off topic as it is irresponsible driving (or lack thereof). Yes, is is actually illegal to defeat automotive safety systems, probably NHTSA standard 208 or something very close, and likely also falls under driving while impaired (defined as any obstruction to vehicle controls like a cast) in several states.
I'm not the police so this is really my last word on it.
 

helvio

E-TARDIS
Aug 11, 2020
409
554
Phoenixville, PA
I hardly see that as drifting off topic as it is irresponsible driving (or lack thereof). Yes, is is actually illegal to defeat automotive safety systems, probably NHTSA standard 208 or something very close, and likely also falls under driving while impaired (defined as any obstruction to vehicle controls like a cast) in several states.
I'm not the police so this is really my last word on it.
Wanting to blame an accessory (that is not illegal, I stand by what I said. AP is not a safety system, it's assistive.) instead of the driver is drifting off topic.
 

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