Tesla Model 3 Driver Says Autopilot Was Engaged During Crash Into Highway Patrol Car

The EV driver was reportedly checking on his dog in the backseat when he struck the police cruiser.

Tesla Model 3 Crash Connecticut Dec 2019
Facebook | Connecticut State Police

Another day, another Tesla crash caused by someone supposedly misusing Autopilot. Connecticut State Police took to Facebook to report that a Model 3 rear-ended one of its highway patrol cars while using the semi-autonomous driving system. The driver claimed he was checking on his dog in the back seat before the collision occurred.

The accident took place early Saturday morning when the Tesla with Connecticut plates reading "MODEL3" was traveling northbound on Interstate 95. The electric vehicle struck a CSP Ford Taurus Police Interceptor in the city of Norwalk, where an officer was tending to a broken-down vehicle in the left-center lane of the interstate with the lights activated and flares placed before the scene.

As the patrolman onsite awaited a tow truck, the Model 3 collided with the squad car before subsequently hitting the disabled vehicle as well. The EV then almost hit a second CSP patrol car before coming to a rest several hundred feet down the road.

Afterward, the police spoke with the Model 3 driver to find out what happened, revealing that Autopilot was supposedly engaged while he took his eyes off the road and catered to his pet in the back seat. The CSP troopers later issued him two summonses for reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

Luckily, nobody was injured in the accident.

This isn’t the first time a driver has misused Autopilot, and almost any accident involving a Tesla brings the technology into question. Just last year, a driver died behind the wheel of a Tesla Model X in California, and many pointed fingers at the advanced driver assistance system as the culprit.

Earlier this year, Tesla itself released statistics confirming that Autopilot incidents had increased slightly but human-related driving errors were down in the first quarter of 2019, suggesting that Tesla vehicles travel greater distances without incident versus the national average. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an accident occurs every 436,000 miles that vehicles are driven in the United States; for Teslas with Autopilot engaged, that figure stretches to once every 2.87 million miles. Without Autopilot, it shrinks to once every 1.76 million miles, according to Tesla. 

Despite Tesla models with Autopilot racking up millions of miles and collecting data to improve the system, it's still imperfect. Since the feature’s release, numerous accidents have occurred due to people believing that the Tesla models equipped with Autopilot are completely self-driving. That, however, is not the case as no car today features SAE Level 4 or Level 5 capabilities.

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