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Tesla Autopilot Crashes With Emergency Vehicles Investigated

After a series of Tesla autopilot crashes with parked emergency vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has opened up an investigation. Autopilot vehicles are becoming more and more popular. This technology is evolving, but still has issues that need to be worked out. There are certain levels of driving automation, which will be explained below. To be clear, autopilot features in vehicles do not replace drivers. In fact, everyone has a legal responsibility to drive safely on the roads. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a Nevada car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away.

Autopilot Technology

SAE International (“SAE”), formally known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, is a global association of nearly 130,000 engineers and other technical experts in the aerospace, automotive, and commercial vehicle industries. According to SAE, there are multiple different levels of driving automation standards for consumers. 

  • Level 0-2: The person in the driver’s seat is driving whenever autopilot features are on, even if their feet are off the pedals and they are not steering, and the driver must constantly supervise steering, braking, and acceleration to maintain safety;
  • Level 2: This autopilot features steering and brake acceleration that does not need to be supervised and includes lane centering and adaptive cruise control;
  • Level 3-5: Here, the person is seated in the driver’s seat but not in control as the autopilot handles all features of the vehicle. 

Please note that automated driving does not mean that those vehicles will be accident-free. 

Tesla Autopilot Crashes

The NHTSA has found issues with certain Tesla models that keep crashing into roadside or in-road first responders. Reports show that since the 2018 NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation (“ODI”), there have been 11 crashes. In the accidents, Tesla vehicles have come across first responder scenes and hit one or more vehicles. The NHTSA ODI investigation revealed:

  • Most crashes happened after dark;
  • The crash scenes all were blocked off with flares, road cones, illuminated arrow boards and first responder vehicle lights;
  • At the time of the crash, the Tesla vehicles were on autopilot or traffic aware cruise control. 

It is important to know that autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system. When a vehicle is in autopilot, the car maintains its speed and lane centering. The driver, however, still holds primary responsibility for:

  • Identifying obstacles in the roadway; and
  • Adjusting to adverse maneuvers by neighboring vehicles.

It is important to know that vehicles are not completely automated. If you are in a vehicle that is on autopilot, as a driver, you are still responsible for safe maneuvering and driving. 

Contact Our Nevada Car Accident Lawyers Today


If you have been involved in an autopilot crash, or any other type of car accident in Nevada, do not try to handle your claim on your own. The attorneys at H&P Law  have years of experience fighting for the rights of injury victims in Las Vegas and across Nevada. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a Nevada car accident, do not delay. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys so that we can get the compensation you deserve.

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