Tesla struck other car while in Autopilot mode, Utah woman says in lawsuit

A Utah woman is suing Tesla, saying her Model S crashed into another car while it was in Autopilot mode earlier this year in South Jordan.

But Tesla says it’s the driver’s responsibility to be alert and ready to control the vehicle.

The Tesla Model S, which the woman bought in 2016, is advertised to have “enhanced Autopilot,” including 360 degrees of visibility and 250 meters of “forward protection,” the woman’s attorney wrote in a news release. At some point, an auto repair shop replaced a sensor in hers, according to the lawsuit.

In May, the woman was using the car’s Autopilot mode, heading south on Bangerter Highway in South Jordan, when the car approached traffic that had come to a complete stop, the lawsuit states.

But the “safety features” did not engage, the lawsuit says, and the car didn’t stop when the cars blocked its path. The woman tried to hit the brakes herself, but they also did not engage, the lawsuit states.

Her car rear-ended another, and the woman suffered “severe and permanent injuries” and incurred at least $3,000 in expenses, the lawsuit says. It does not state what, if any, role the replaced sensor may have had in the crash.

Tesla representatives provided a South Jordan police report that said the driver “admitted that she was looking at her phone prior to the collision.” The woman was issued a citation for failing to keep proper lookout while driving.

“When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times," a Tesla representative wrote in a prepared statement. "Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents.”

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