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Tesla on Autopilot Crashes Into Police Vehicle in California

A Tesla that was in autopilot mode crashed into a Laguna Beach police patrol vehicle Tuesday morning, totaling the SU...

Posted: May 30, 2018 2:57 PM
Updated: May 30, 2018 2:58 PM

A Tesla that was in autopilot mode crashed into a Laguna Beach police patrol vehicle Tuesday morning, totaling the SUV and leaving the sedan's driver injured, an official said.

The crash occurred along Laguna Canyon Road shortly after 11 a.m., according to Laguna Beach Police Department Sgt. Jim Cota.

The officer was not in the police SUV at the time but handling a call for service about 1,000 yards away, Cota said.

The Tesla driver, a 65-year-old man, sustained minor injuries, but declined transport to a hospital, the sergeant said.

Photos from the scene showed the Tesla with front end damage. The police SUV had damage to the rear driver's side, the photos showed.

"Thankfully there was not an officer at the time in the police car," Cota told the Los Angeles Times. "The police car is totaled."

A Tesla on autopilot crashed into a semi-truck in the exact same area on April 10, 2017. Police are now looking into whether the location's topography, lane markings or other factors are creating a problem for the semi-autonomous technology, Cota told KTLA.

"It's something that we're going to have to work on, whether it be with Tesla themselves, or we're going to have to get into more specifics and find out why this is occurring," he said.

The same traffic investigator who responded to last year's incident also responded to Tuesday's incident, Cota said. He added that the incidents involved different drivers.

It is unclear what led up to the latest crash, but Tesla emphasizes that drivers are expected to remain engaged when using autopilot mode.

The company said in a statement that "Tesla has always been clear that autopilot doesn't make the car impervious to all accidents, and before a driver can use Autopilot, they must accept a dialogue box which states that 'Autopilot is designed for use on highways that have a center divider and clear markings.'"

Earlier this year, a Tesla driver was killed in a crash on Highway 101 in Mountain View that occurred while autopilot was engaged, but the company says the driver was to blame in that incident.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.

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