Tesla Driver Who Crashed into Police Car Warned by Autopilot 150 Times: Report
Written by Simon Alvarez, Teslarati
Published Aug. 14, 2023
On Feb. 27, 2021, a 2019 Tesla Model X reportedly on Autopilot crashed into a police vehicle at 54 mph. Five police offers who were conducting a routine traffic stop were injured, as was the driver who had been pulled over by the police. Reports indicated the driver of the Model X was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
The injured police officers filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging the company has not done enough to address issues with its Autopilot driver-assist system, seeking damages between $1 million to $20 million for injuries and permanent disabilities.
An investigation by The Wall Street Journal retrieved footage from the 2019 Model X, showing the driver of the all-electric SUV received 150 warnings from Autopilot over a 34-minute time span prior to the crash, advising the driver to take control of the vehicle.
The 2019 Model X is not equipped with an in-cabin camera, so the vehicle’s Autopilot driver monitoring system largely relied on whether torque could be detected on the steering wheel. Considering the 150 warnings that the driver received, it would appear the driver was able to apply just enough torque to the steering wheel to keep Autopilot active.
The allegedly intoxicated driver did eventually heed Autopilot’s advice after he received the 150th warning from the vehicle. At this point, however, the Tesla was only 2.5 seconds and 37 yards from the parked police vehicle. The WSJ noted Autopilot tried to stop the Model X, but the system seemed to have disengaged with the expectation the driver would take over.
Tesla has maintained the fault lies in the driver. The EV maker has a point, since a vehicle without Autopilot might have crashed immediately after the driver stopped paying attention to the road, and injured far more people. However, if a driver receives 150 warnings from Autopilot, a Tesla should probably just be programmed to pull over, as it is evident that the driver is not paying attention.