We know that every time a Tesla crashes, the story gets national attention. Reports are often quick to blame Tesla Autopilot, even when there's not enough evidence the prove that the advanced driver-assist system caused the crash.
Now, as Tesla is in the midst of a formal investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), another Tesla vehicle has collided with a stopped police car. For those unaware, the NHTSA investigation is looking into a number of Tesla crashes that involved stopped emergency vehicles.
Fortunately, the police officer in this recent incident wasn't injured. The report says the Tesla driver and the driver of another stopped car both sustained minor injuries. The interesting part here is that the article from the Associated Press reads:
"A Tesla using its partially automated driving system slammed into a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser Saturday on an interstate near downtown Orlando and narrowly missed its driver, who had pulled over to assist a disabled vehicle."
Apparently, the Associated Press is simply taking the Tesla driver's words as facts, which is very risky since, in the past, drivers have made such claims and later been proven wrong. Some reports say the driver did claim the car was on Autopilot. However, as far as we understand, there has been no official investigation, and there's not yet any way of knowing for sure whether Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash.
As the story goes, the police car was hit in the wee hours of the morning while the officer was responding to another disabled vehicle. The cruiser's emergency lights were activated when the Tesla vehicle hit it on the left side and then proceeded to crash into the other disabled car. Tesla has yet to respond to a request for comment.
In the past, nearly every crash involving a Tesla was initially blamed on Autopilot, which is Tesla's suite of advanced driver-assist systems. In many cases, it was later proven that either Autopilot wasn't engaged or wasn't responsible, though there have been Tesla crashes where it was proven Autopilot was involved. Sadly, at least one was fatal. The AP reported:
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened the Tesla probe after tallying 11 crashes since 2018 in which Teslas on autopilot or cruise control have hit vehicles where first responders have used flashing lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board or cones warning of hazards.
In those crashes, 17 people were injured and one was killed, the NHTSA said. An investigation could lead to a recall or other enforcement action."
At this point, it's a waiting game to learn precisely what happened. However, no matter what the cause, the story will put even greater pressure on Tesla as the investigation is underway.
This is a developing story.