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Tesla in self-driving mode slams into Calif. police cruiser

A Fullerton Police Department officer was outside his cruiser investigating a fatal crash when a Tesla slammed into his patrol vehicle, narrowly missing the officer

By Summer Lin
Los Angeles Times

FULLERTON, Calif. — A Tesla driver using the vehicle’s self-driving mode crashed into a police car Thursday morning in Fullerton, almost hitting an officer who was investigating another crash, according to authorities.

A Fullerton Police Department officer was investigating a fatal crash around 12:04 a.m. near Orangethorpe and Courtney Avenues, according to a department news release. The officer was managing traffic at the time and emergency flares had been placed on the road.

The officer was standing outside his patrol vehicle, with its emergency lights on, and managed to jump out of the way before the driver of a blue Tesla crashed into his car, authorities said. A police dispatcher, who was riding in the patrol vehicle, also moved out of the way of the crash.

No officers were injured in the collision. It’s unknown if the Tesla driver sustained any injuries.

The Tesla driver admitted he was operating the vehicle in self-driving mode while using his cellphone, police said. He stayed at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

The crash comes months after Tesla settled a lawsuit with the family of a Bay Area engineer, who died in a 2018 crash while using the company’s semi-autonomous self-driving feature. Tesla agreed to settle the case for an undisclosed amount.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving and Autopilot systems help with braking, steering and changing lanes but aren’t completely autonomous. U.S. regulators have investigated hundreds of collisions, some of them deadly, that occurred while the Autopilot feature was engaged.

The company issued a recall last year to fix defects with the self-driving software.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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