A Tesla has hit an emergency vehicle, apparently while using the Autopilot driver-assist feature, adding to a problem that is already the subject of a federal safety probe.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported the accident before 5:00am on Saturday along Interstate 4 in Orlando.
No one was seriously injured in the crash, though the Tesla did narrowly miss hitting a state trooper as he left his car to assist another driver who had broken down on the highway.
The broken-down car was a Mercedes that had come to a stop in a travel lane. The police cruiser was stopped behind it with its emergency lights flashing. The left front of the Tesla Model 3 crashed into the side of the police car, and then hit the Mercedes.
“The driver stated that was in Autopilot mode,” said the report from the Florida Highway Patrol.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration disclosed earlier this month that it is investigating at least 11 accidents involving Teslas that have hit police cars, ambulances or other emergency vehicles while they were responding to traffic accidents.
The crashes under investigation occurred between January 22, 2018, and July 10, 2021, across nine states. They took place mostly at night, and the accident response scenes were all outfitted with control measures such as emergency vehicle lights, flares, illuminated arrow boards and road cones, according to NHTSA.
Florida police said they would report the crash to the NHTSA and to Tesla.
The highway safety agency said that it is important that Tesla owners using Autopilot remain alert and ready to take control of the car in order to avoid obstacles.
“NHTSA reminds the public that no commercially available motor vehicles today are capable of driving themselves,” the agency said in a statement.
“Every available vehicle requires a human driver to be in control at all times, and all state laws hold human drivers responsible for operation of their vehicles.”