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Tesla On Autopilot Slams Into Deputy’s SUV

Snohomish County, WA – A Tesla on “autopilot” smashed into a parked Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy’s patrol vehicle on Saturday at the scene of another crash.

The incident occurred at about 6:40 p.m. on May 15 in Snohomish County, which is located north of Seattle, NBC News reported.

A sheriff’s deputy responded to a crash and was parked on the shoulder of the road with his emergency lights flashing.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) said the deputy had just stepped out of his vehicle to talk to firefighters on the scene when a 2015 Tesla Model S slammed into his patrol SUV, KIRO reported.

There was significant damage to the deputy’s vehicle.

Authorities said the driver of the Tesla told police that he had his car on autopilot at the time of the time of the crash, NBC News reported.

WSP said the driver of the Tesla said he thought his car would move out of the way of the deputy’s SUV on its own, but it didn’t.

A ticket was issued to the driver of the Tesla for causing or permitting the vehicle to be unlawfully operated, KIRO reported.

“This is a great reminder that vehicles may have autopilot to assist, but it cannot be relied upon to get you safely from one destination to the next,” the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said in a post about the wreck on its official Facebook page.

Tesla’s autopilot is a driver assistance device, according to the company’s website, but it’s not supposed to replace the driver, KIRO reported.

“Before enabling autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times and to always maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle,” the Tesla website read.

WSP said drivers who used autopilot were “still required to be paying attention to the road and ready for hazards,” according to KIRO.

But safety experts said that “autopilot” crashes have become too common nationwide as more vehicles equipped with the feature have joined the roads, including some Ubers and public transit vehicles.

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for the Auto Safety in Washington, D.C., said the problem was mostly because of people who misused the technology provided on their vehicles, KIRO reported.

But Levin also pointed the finger at Tesla and said the company should get part of the blame for the wrecks.

“They’re crashing into stopped vehicles on the road we’re seeing it with police vehicles, we’re seeing it with fire trucks, ambulances there was a turned over semi-truck the other day in California that resulted in a death,” he said. “When Tesla calls it autopilot, when Tesla calls it full self-driving, that convinces people that it’s something that it isn’t.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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