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February 20, 2019

Tesla driver claims Autopilot caused car to drive off the road

February 12, 2019
A Tesla driver claims the autopilot on his car took over seconds before he veered off-road Sunday, blaming the vehicle’s technology for the crash in New Jersey. (iStockphoto)

A Tesla driver claims the autopilot feature on his car took over seconds before he veered off a New Jersey road, and he blamed the vehicle’s technology for the crash.

Eric Carter, a Hamilton resident, told police he meant to go straight Sunday, ABC News reported.

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The Tesla Model X veered to the right suddenly, and the steering wheel locked into place as a message appeared that a new lane was detected, Carter told police.

Police said the car went off-road, hit a curb, struck traffic signs and then drove over another curb before it stopped in a grassy area.

Carter told News12 New Jersey that the car drove toward a median — but he was able to veer the car slightly and avoid directly crashing into sign head-on.

He claims the car misread the road lines on Route 1, leading to the crash.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident, police told ABC, although the Tesla was damaged.

According to Tesla’s website, Autopilot is “an advanced driver system” that “helps a driver with driver supervision.” The company’s website says the technology is “intended for use with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time.”

When using Autopilot, drivers must agree to not take their hands off the steering wheel and to retain control over the vehicle. Additionally, drivers receive reminders to keep their hands on the steering wheel.

According to the car maker’s website, drivers “must first enable Auto Lane Changes through the Autopilot Controls menu within the Settings tab. Then when the car is in Autosteer, a driver must engage the turn signal in the direction that they would like to move.”

Since 2015 when the Autopilot system launched, Tesla said in a statement to the Daily News that it is “are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage.”

“Safety is the top priority at Tesla, and we engineer and build our cars with this in mind. We also ask our customers to exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles,” Tesla said.

According to safety reports from Tesla, using Autopilot can increase safety for drivers.

In the Q4 of 2018, when using Autopilot, the company “registered one accident for every 2.91 million miles driven.” Without Autopilot engaged, however, Tesla registered “one accident for every 1.58 million miles.”

North Brunswick Police Captain Brian Hoiberg expressed drivers still hold responsibility — no matter what technology the car may have.

“Whether it’s in Autopilot or not, you’re still responsible for your actions and the actions of your vehicle,” Hoiberg told ABC.

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