Tesla crashes into parked vehicle, driver blames “self-drive” system

The driver was using his cell phone when he hit the other car.

A Tesla operating on one of the company’s automated driving systems crashed into a parked police vehicle in Fullerton, California.

The Tesla driver claimed to have engaged the vehicle’s “self-drive” system and was using his cell phone at the time of the crash, according to the police statement.


Driving the news: This incident adds to a series of similar crashes involving Tesla vehicles using partially automated driving systems colliding with police cars or firetrucks parked on roads with flashing lights activated.

  • Fullerton police described the driver’s conduct as a “clear violation of responsible driving practices and California law” and stated that the crash is still under investigation.
  • The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has previously required Tesla to recall its “Full Self-Driving” and “Autopilot” systems, is aware of the crash and has reached out to Tesla for more information.
  • It is unclear whether the Tesla driver was using the “Full Self-Driving” or Autopilot systems, and police have not verified the claim of engaging “self-drive” mode.

Go deeper: Tesla emphasizes to owners that neither “Full Self-Driving” nor Autopilot can drive themselves, and drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.

  • The police officer and a police dispatcher present were able to move to the side of the road and avoid injury as they saw the approaching Tesla. Fullerton police highlighted that a potential disaster was averted.
  • NHTSA previously investigated Autopilot crashes into emergency vehicles and closed the probe in April after Tesla agreed to recall the software and enhance driver monitoring functions.
  • NHTSA reported a total of 467 crashes with injuries and 14 deaths involving Autopilot, as well as 75 crashes and one death related to “Full Self Driving”—though it remains unclear if the system was at fault.
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