A Washington state man thought his Tesla's autopilot mode would automatically avoid a parked vehicle in its path. He was incorrect. The man's Tesla Model S crashed into a police SUV that was parked on the shoulder with its emergency lights on, NBC reports. A deputy responding to another collision had gotten out of the vehicle just 30 seconds earlier to speak with firefighters. The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office says nobody was injured in the Saturday crash, but the police vehicle sustained "significant damage" and the Tesla driver was ticketed for causing the vehicle to be unlawfully operated.
"This is a great reminder that vehicles may have autopilot to assist, but it cannot be relied upon to get you safely from one destination to the next," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post. Police say people whose vehicles are in autopilot mode are "still required to be paying attention to the road and ready for hazards." Tesla says drivers should keep their hands on the wheel at all times after the mode is enabled. Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for the Auto Safety, tells KIRO7 that people are misusing the technology, but the company should take some of the blame. "When Tesla calls it autopilot, when Tesla calls it full self-driving, that convinces people that it’s something that it isn’t," he says. (Two men were killed in a Tesla crash last month when "no one was driving.")