Tesla on Autopilot Smashes Into Deputy's Vehicle

A Tesla driving on autopilot crashed into a deputy's vehicle in Arlington, Washington, on Saturday and caused "significant damage."

According to a Facebook post from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office in Washington, the incident occurred on Saturday near the 25200 block of 103rd Ave NE.

A deputy with the sheriff's office was responding to another incident involving a collision "where a vehicle sheared a power pole in half."

After arriving to the scene, the deputy who was not identified by police, turned his emergency lights on, stepped out of his vehicle to assist the driver who had smashed into the pole and speak with "fire units on scene."

"Approximately 30 seconds later, a Tesla in 'autopilot' mode, struck the deputy's vehicle causing significant damage," the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office wrote in the Facebook post.

While the sheriff's office reported significant damage to the deputy's vehicle, the Facebook post stated that there were no injuries reported from the collision.

"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 Facebook post said.

The Washington State Patrol wrote to Newsweek, "While Troopers investigated the collision, the driver of the Tesla claimed that he had the vehicle in 'Auto-Pilot mode' and assumed the vehicle would slow and move over on its own. The driver of the Telsa [sic] was issued a ticket for the collision."

"Regardless of the technology equipped with your vehicle, it is ultimately the driver's responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle while on public roadways," the Washington State Patrol said in the statement.

The electric car company has faced similar issued over the past year with several other car accidents reported while drivers were suspected of using Tesla's autopilot feature. According to Tesla, the autopilot feature requires "active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous."

Earlier this month, a Tesla driver was involved in a fatal crash in California, which is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol. Shortly after the crash, which left a man identified as Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, dead, the California Highway Patrol said that a preliminary investigation showed that autopilot "was engaged" in Hendrickson's Tesla Model 3 truck.

A day later, the California Highway Patrol issued a new statement saying, "To clarify, there has not been a final determination made as to what driving mode the Tesla was in or if it was a contributing factor to the crash."

A similar situation occurred in April in Texas when two men were killed in a car crash involving a Tesla Model S.

Tesla
A Tesla vehicle is displayed in a Manhattan dealership on January 30, 2020 in New York City. Over the past year, Tesla has faced several car accidents reported while drivers were believed to be using Tesla's autopilot feature. Spencer Platt/Getty

Harris County Precinct 4 constable Mark Herman initially told KPRC News in Houston that "no one was driving" the Tesla and there was an individual in the passenger seat and another in the back seat.

Shortly after the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk disputed the reports that the car was using its autopilot feature stating, "Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD.… Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have."

In addition to the comments from Musk, on May 10, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the Tesla involved in the Texas crash could not have been using autopilot where the crash occurred.

"The report states the Model S P100D car was equipped with 'Autopilot'—Tesla's advanced driver assistance system," NTSB wrote in a statement on May 10. "This system requires both the Traffic Aware Cruise Control and the Autosteer systems to be engaged. NTSB tests of an exemplar car at the crash location showed that Traffic Aware Cruise Control could be engaged, but Autosteer was not available on the part of the road (Hammock Dunes Place) where the crash happened."