Hybrids & Electrics

Tesla Model Y In Autopilot Destroys a Michigan Cop Car

Tesla and or Elon Musk can’t help but stay in the news. I guess it is a part of their marketing strategy, or at least, it sure feels like it. Whether the cars or Elon himself, something funky is always happening over there at Tesla. I imagine as EVs become more integrated into our world, this will continue to happen. Most recently, another Tesla crashed while in Autopilot mode. This time it was a Tesla Model Y, but it destroyed a cop car. 

Tesla Autopilot is poorly named

Another Tesla crashed while in Autopilot mode. This particular instance happened to end its “self-driving” session in the back of a cop car in Michigan. 

According to local police, they were responding to someone hitting a deer around 1 in the morning. While the troopers were investigating the scene, a Tesla blasted a parked police Dodge Charger and lit that sunnova gun up. Thankfully, the police car was empty, and the Tesla driver was uninjured. 

Even though no one was hurt, the cars were not so lucky. CarScoops mentioned that both cars were heavily damaged in the crash. The charger got hit on the rear/driver side, and that was pretty much all destroyed, and the Tesla’s passenger side got ripped pretty good. 

Tesla driver gets the book

Although no one was hurt, the Tesla driver wasn’t all that lucky. The 22-year-old driver was slapped with a citation for failing to move over during police business and driving on a suspended license. Apparently, failure to move over during police business is a civil offense that comes with a $400 fine and two points on the driver’s license. 

An image of a Tesla Model Y out on a race track.
Tesla Model Y | Tesla

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The second offense is a bit more serious. Driving with a suspended license can earn drivers up to a $500 fine and a max of 93 days in jail. 

What made the Tesla Model Y crash?

There is still an ongoing investigation as to what exactly happened, but Lt. Brian Oleksyk told CNBC that the car’s Autopilot feature was on at the time of the crash. There is more that needs to happen to prove that the feature was actually on. 

Although we know, Autopilot is not a fully autonomous driving system, and Tesla notes that it requires “active driver participation,” maybe it shouldn’t be called Autopilot. It simply isn’t that. I think many people feel that Tesla has been less than clear in its marketing language about what Auto[ilot is actually capable of. Like many other things, things Elon Musk and his sci-fi company say, these realities are, at times, a little less than the promise. Again, Tesla does say that Autopilot needs driver participation, but the name is mighty misleading. 

What do these crashes mean for the future of automation? 


This one worked out fairly well, all things considered, but this was mostly due to luck. Teslas with this feature have the potential to be really dangerous. CarScoops quotes National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt as saying, “If you are selling a car with an advanced driver assistance system, you’re not selling a self-driving car. If you are driving a car with an advanced driver assistance system, you don’t own a self-driving car.”