Suspected Drunk Driver Crashes His Tesla Into Parked Fire Truck, Blames Autopilot

A parked fire truck in California was hit by a Tesla Model S on Saturday. There is some suspicion that a DUI may be part of why the incident occurred.
Mario L. Major

As the revenues, and output, of Tesla's autonomous vehicles continue to rise, there has also been a small rise in the number of accidents involving the cars. And based on the latest incident, it seems that the unmanned vehicles hold an inexplicable grudge against fire trucks.


The latest example was a collision that occured this past weekend involving one of the company's Model S cars. The black vehicle struck the parked fire truck from behind at around 1 AM on Saturday morning close to Coyote Creek on the Southbound Highway 101.

The impact of the vehicle resulted in two of the passengers in the car requiring a trip to the hospital, though as in the other two cases from earlier in the year, no firefighters were hurt.

There is some suspicion that a DUI may be part of why the incident occurred, which led to an arrest of the driver, 37-year-old Michael Tran. He reportedly said on the scene, "I think I had auto-pilot on."

As for Tesla, it has remained clear about the autopilot feature:

"Traffic-Aware Cruise Control cannot detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles, especially in situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and a vehicle you are following moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you instead."

What this means is that until data is recovered from the car in question, the company most likely will not be releasing a detailed statement. This reiterates the point that parked vehicles are, and based on the latest incident, continue to be, a flaw (which Tesla acknowledges) when using autopilot.

The San Jose Fire Department shared images from the scene on Twitter:

Interestingly, this is the most recent of a string of similar incidents involving parked fire trucks. The incidents added with the reported string of cases involving Model S cars catching fire is raising safety concerns. 

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Encouraging responsible use

In terms of the Model S, Tesla's position on what it needs to do in order to enhance safety has remained consistent this year, which has meant that the company is not entirely to blame for the small pop up of collisions. After all, there is a reason why the phrase informed consumer is popularly used. On the other hand, with the unprecedented influx of technological innovations, companies must go above and beyond the minimum to equip customers to the best of their abilities.

A good step would involve playing nice with consumer reporting groups and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), influential groups who are always looking for opportunities to provide the latest and most effective safety regulations to consumers. In other words, full cooperation. 

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