Tesla in self-driving mode crashes into California cop car

The police vehicle and the Model S following the accident. — Photo via Fullerton Police Department

SAN JOSÉ: A motorist whose Tesla Model S was in self-driving mode slammed into a California police car while the officer was investigating a separate, deadly crash.

The crash is the latest in a series of accidents to have weighed on the closely watched development of driverless mobility, and self-driving rivals Waymo and Cruise have also experienced mishaps.

Proponents of self-driving cars say they will ultimately be safer than human drivers, yet the high-profile crashes have done little to help build trust in this emerging technology.

The latest incident happened last Thursday in Fullerton , about 40km south-east of Los Angeles in Orange County , at a busy intersection while police were investigating a suspected DUI crash that happened hours earlier between a car and a motorcyclist that killed the motorcyclist.

An officer had been managing traffic before the second collision.

The Fullerton Police Department said the cop car’s lights were flashing and several flares had been put down on the road when the blue  Model S plowed into the vehicle. The officer saw the Tesla approaching and was able to get out of the way.

“The driver of this Tesla admitted to engaging his vehicle’s ‘self-drive’ mode while using his cell phone, a clear violation of responsible driving practices and California law,” police said in a news release.

“Self-driving mode can be convenient, but always remember the importance of staying alert and ready to take over at any moment. While there are no laws against the ‘self-drive’ mode, all rules and laws of the road still apply to the driver while controlling the vehicle,” they added.

No major injuries occurred and the Tesla driver is cooperating, police said.

Images of the scene showed the Tesla sustained heavy damage to its front and driver’s side door. The police car was also severely damaged.

Distracted driving led to 3,308 deaths in the US in 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .

“Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed,” the NHTSA says.

“You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.” — tca
Autos News