After a serious accident involving a motorcyclist and a potential drunk driver, one Orange County police officer blocked the road leading up to the scene of the crash. However, he had to get out of the way of a Tesla Model S, which then hit the patrol car. Fortunately, the Tesla driver and the policeman weren’t injured.

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Yet another accident potentially caused by Autopilot

Tesla is currently being investigated for hundreds of accidents that could potentially be linked to its Autopilot Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system, whose name and apparent capability often give drivers the impression that they don't need to keep their eyes on the road.

The Tesla driver admitted he was on a phone call at the time, so he was not paying attention to the road. He says his post-2021 Model S had the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving mode enabled. The security camera footage recovered from a nearby building shows that the police officer had to sprint out of the way of the Tesla, which then slammed into the side of the cruiser with all of its lights on.

The car can be seen braking immediately after making contact with the police car. Still, it’s surprising how Autopilot could have missed a car blocking the entire width of the road with its light flashing and a person standing next to it, probably waving their arms in an attempt to get the distracted driver to slow down. It could be that the Tesla driver is not being truthful, and the car was not on Autopilot. He wasn’t paying attention to the road ahead, which you’re supposed to do even with Level 2 semi-autonomous driving engaged.

He wasn’t immediately arrested, though, but he won’t get off lightly for endangering the officer’s life and destroying the police car, regardless of whether the car had Autopilot on or not. The driving log from the vehicle can be retrieved, and the claim that Autopilot was enabled can be verified. The case is currently under investigation, but we see little that the driver can say or prove to get him out of trouble for this one.

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Autopilot-related crashes and mishaps aren't uncommon. Tesla is under federal investigation after the system was linked to 13 deaths and hundreds of accidents from 2018 through 2023. Teslas are among the only cars on the road that only use cameras to detect obstacles after the automaker announced it was removing all other sensors, including radar, from outside the car. They even use cameras in place of parking sensors, which we found to not be ideal in our recent Tesla Model 3 review.

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