A Tesla sedan, which was traveling in semi-autonomous or Autopilot mode crashed into a parked police vehicle in Laguna Beach the morning of May 29. According to a news report in the Orange County Register, police said instead of driving in the roadway, the vehicle veered off and struck the police vehicle. The 2015 Tesla Model S was traveling in the 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Road near the city’s homeless shelter when it struck the parked police SUV.
The officer was not in the vehicle at the time. The driver of Tesla suffered non-life-threatening injuries. It is still not clear why the Tesla veered and struck the police SUV, which was totaled. The crash is still under investigation and the Tesla’s driver has not been cited. The investigation is ongoing.
It is indeed fortunate that the police officer was not in the SUV at the time of the collision. This could have turned into a major injury crash. We wish the injured Tesla driver the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Autopilot Under Scrutiny
Tesla’s Autopilot mode has come under scrutiny after several recent crashes, some more serious than others. The automaker maintains that the semi-autonomous function is not designed to avoid a crash and that drivers should not entirely rely on it. After a fatal crash in Florida in May 2016, the automaker said drivers should keep their hands on the wheel even when the vehicle is in Autopilot prompting Consumer Reports to question the name of the feature. The safety group said the name Autopilot lulls consumers into a sense of security and leads them to believe that the car has a level of autonomy, which in fact, it does not.
Incidents Piling Up
The incidents involving Tesla vehicles on Autopilot mode are piling up quickly. As auto defect attorneys who have been wary of automakers releasing technology to the market before it is ready for primetime, we are extremely concerned by these incidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating a fatal crash in Florida that left two teens dead earlier this month.
We hope federal officials will look into what is causing these Autopilot crashes. It would be unfortunate and in our opinion, unacceptable, to see one more death or one more person get injured because of a defective or inadequate technology.