ARLINGTON, Wash. — A driver says their Tesla was in autopilot mode when they hit a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office SUV Saturday.
A deputy was responding to a crash in the 25200 block of 103rd Ave NE in the Arlington area where a vehicle had sheared a power pole in half. The deputy was parked on the shoulder with his emergency lights flashing and had gotten out of the SUV to speak with firefighters.
About 30 seconds later, the Tesla hit the deputy’s SUV, causing significant damage, the sheriff’s office said.
But autopilot isn’t exactly what it sounds like; it’s a driver assist mode.
On Tesla’s website, the company states that, “Before enabling Autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to ‘keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times’ and to always ‘maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle.’”
The Washington State Patrol, which is leading the investigation into the crash, told KIRO 7 that even if a driver is in autopilot, they are “still required to be paying attention to the road and ready for hazards.”
The driver was ticketed for causing or permitting the vehicle to be unlawfully operated.
Safety experts said the scene in Arlington is becoming more and more frequent across the country.
Jason Levine is the Executive Director of the Center for the Auto Safety in Washington, D.C. He said it really comes down to people misusing the technology on the car, but also says at some point part of the blame falls on the company.
“They’re crashing into stopped vehicles on the road we’re seeing it with police vehicles, we’re seeing it with fire trucks, ambulances there was a turned over semi-truck the other day in California that resulted in a death,” he said. “When Tesla calls it autopilot, when Tesla calls it full self-driving, that convinces people that it’s something that it isn’t.”
On Tesla’s website, the company states that, “Before enabling autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times and to always maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle.”
Cox Media Group