If the underage teen occupants of a Tesla Model 3 are to be believed, their car was on Autopilot when it backed up and collided with a Florida deputy’s patrol car.
The incident took place in the early hours on Friday, March 19 in Flagler County, Florida. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a deputy noticed a white Model 3 driving the wrong way down a road after exiting a gas station in Palm Coast.
After activating his lights, the Tesla pulled over and came to a stop. It was then when the Model 3 began reversing and collided with the patrol car at low speed.
Inside were two occupants, a 14-year old and 15-year old, neither of which were in the driver’s seat. When asked what happened, they claimed the car was in “Autopilot mode” and driving itself at the time of the collision.
When looking even just a little bit closer at the facts of the case, it is clear Autopilot is not to blame in this situation. Yet, in a statement that’s exactly what the Sherrif’s Office did, saying they determined that “one of the juveniles was operating the vehicle before putting it in autopilot, causing the crash.”
One of the teens was cited for driving without a license.
It is unfortunate that Autopilot is the “go-to” excuse when a Tesla is involved in any kind of accident, even a low speed collision while in reverse. What makes it worse is when officials, in this case the Sheriff’s Office, make the claims too.
You can watch the bodycam footage from one of the officers on the scene, as well as the full statement from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office below.