Elon Musk’s innovative automobile had a tragic run-in with the police sometime in 2020. The footage was only recently released, showing the driver smashing his vehicle into a parked police car. The driver had his Tesla on autopilot and admitted to watching a movie on his phone while operating the vehicle.
North Carolina State Highway Patrol released the footage of the incident on Wednesday. The crash was recorded on the police car’s dashcam. The camera showed two police standing outside the vehicle on U.S. Highway 64 before the auto-piloted Tesla crashed. The uncontrolled Tesla smashed into a different highway patrol vehicle before projecting that car towards the stationary police officers.
Luckily for the officer closest to the road, the second officer was quick enough to push him out of harm’s way. The police vehicle was sent plummeting off the highway and into a ditch. Photos taken after the accident showed that the auto-piloted Tesla had caused severe damage to the police vehicle.
That instantaneous move by one of the North Carolina officers saved the other officer’s life. Severe bodily damage could’ve occurred alongside the totaled squad car without the policeman’s swift reflexes. The crash and its potential to harm individuals collaterally showcased flaws in Tesla’s autopilot functions.
While the Tesla was on autopilot, its driver, Devainder Goli, stated that his inattentiveness propelled the accident. He was watching a movie on his phone right before the crash began, a move that could be the real reason for an incident this catastrophic. Goli was immediately arrested and charged with two different violations. One of the charges was a move-over violation, an infringement of the law that drivers must change lanes for a parked police vehicle.
For Elon Musk and his futuristic automotive company, auto-piloted Teslas getting into serious crashes is not uncommon. Over the past two years, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 12 different incidents involving Teslas on autopilot. This caused the NHTSA to begin an investigation into Tesla and asked the company to hand over its autopilot data.
The investigation into auto-piloted Tesla crashes is still ongoing, but the evidence is not in Musk’s favor. 17 injuries in total, and two deaths, positioned the space and tech company’s electric car in a negligent light. The government agency performing the investigation assumes that Tesla’s autopilot functions are not as safe as advertised.
In early 2022, two tragic deaths associated with Tesla’s autopilot mode were brought to California court. Prosecutors filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against the driver, the first felony charge for an auto-piloted vehicle in U.S. history. The Tesla driver was caught after speeding through a red light and ramming into another car in 2019.
Though this California incident is the first to resolve in felony charges, the past few years have seen numerous court cases dealing with autopilot issues. In Arizona, an Uber driver was charged with negligent homicide after being hired by the company to test an autonomous car. These accidents are profoundly concerning since almost 800,000 Teslas with the autopilot function exist in the United States today.