Tesla Model 3 on autopilot hits highway patrol vehicle in Florida


A Tesla Model 3 struck the vehicle of a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) soldier on Saturday just weeks after NHTSA opened an investigation into the semi-autonomous driving feature. The driver and FHP confirmed that the vehicle was operating on autopilot.

According to Orlando Sentry, a 27-year-old man was driving his Model 3 westbound on Interstate 4 near Orlando around 5 a.m. EST on Saturday morning when the vehicle struck a highway patrol vehicle that was stopped on the side of the road to help a broken down automobile on the shoulder.

The driver said the vehicle was operating on autopilot, according to FHP and the ABC affiliate. WFTV9. The driver of the Tesla, as well as the owner of the broken down vehicle, were slightly injured. The soldier at the scene was not injured.

Interestingly, the crash happened just weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into Tesla’s autopilot. The agency said Teslarati that it would investigate eleven separate cases of accidents occurring during autopilot operation. However, several of the accidents investigated were ultimately not the fault of the system itself and were in fact the result of gross negligence on the part of the driver. Two of the eleven incidents examined were caused by the drunk driver. Another was caused by a driver with suspended license, and four were the result of improper use of the autopilot.

NHTSA Launches Tesla Autopilot Investigation into Crashes with Emergency Vehicles

Due to its unfamiliar nature to many people, Autopilot has a bad reputation and is often misrepresented and misunderstood by the media and critics. Tesla Autopilot is not a fully autonomous driving feature and is standard with every Tesla from 2017 or later. Tesla has never stated that autopilot replaces human drivers and has stated many times that the system should be used while the driver is fully attentive and always focused on the road. To use the autopilot in a vehicle, the driver’s hands must be on the steering wheel at all times for necessary intervention, and the steering wheel has sensors that confirm that the driver always retains ultimate control of the vehicle.

Although the driver has told FHP that the vehicle is operating on autopilot, it is still the driver’s responsibility to maintain control of the vehicle. Frequently, the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving suites are abused by some. When these irresponsible actions result in an accident or injury, Tesla takes responsibility, not the driver. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate description of actual autopilot safety.

An example of Tesla’s full self-driving that was showcased at the company’s AI day on August 19. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla reports on the safety of its vehicles quarterly, with the most recent statistics showing that vehicles running on autopilot are involved in crashes much less frequently than human drivers. In Q1 2021, the company said:

“… We recorded an accident for 4.19 million kilometers traveled in which the drivers had activated the autopilot. For those who drive without an autopilot but with our safety features active, we have recorded one accident for every 2.05 million miles traveled. For those who drive without autopilot and without our active safety features, we have recorded an accident for every 978,000 miles traveled. By comparison, the most recent NHTSA data shows that in the United States, there is a car crash every 484,000 miles.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below, or be sure to email me at [email protected] or on Twitter @KlenderJoey.

Tesla Model 3 on autopilot hits highway patrol vehicle in Florida

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