Tesla is undoubtedly one of the best electric cars out there but recently, its autopilot system has been getting into a lot of trouble and for that reason, the cops have become suspicious of an incoming Tesla driver.
In fact, the Federal Government Auto Safety Agency is significantly expanding its investigation into Tesla.
Find out in this article, if indeed Tesla owners get pulled over frequently, or if the claim is overly exaggerated.
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Are There Any Stats On How Often Teslas Get Pulled Over?
We would not say Tesla owners get pulled over at the slightest chance, but they’re mostly pulled over when the police notice the car is running on its autopilot system and the driver is probably distracted or if the vehicle has gone beyond the speed limit.
According to reports by the Washington Post, Tesla vehicles running on its autopilot system have been involved in 273 crashes over the past years.
The numbers given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that Tesla vehicles made up nearly 70% of the 392 accidents involving this driver assistance system in cars. Out of 6 vehicles involved in a crash, five Teslas were among them.
These stats are clearly worrisome. The government would surely want to get to the root of such a problem and, in the process, may create a bias against any self-driving feature in a vehicle.
Asides from this issue, there’s no special reason Tesla owners get pulled over. A user reported on the Tesla Motors Club that he wasn’t pulled over when he got his Tesla Model 3 as against when he drove his orange BMW 3 Lime Rock Edition.
With the BMW, he got ticketed so often because it got so much attention for its color and there was no sympathy from the police as he just had to accept the ticket. But with his Tesla Model 3, he claimed he has never gotten ticketed, except in two situations.
The first situation was when he over-accelerated. The second was when he took the wrong freeway exit at night. The police pulled him over just to be certain he wasn’t drunk.
Judging from this, it shows that Teslas only get pulled over by the cops when they notice something is off with their driving pattern.
Do Cops Respect Teslas More Than Other Cars?
Based on the reports given on the Tesla Motors Club forum, most users reported they got no preferential treatment from the cops. They get the same punishment or ticket if they break the traffic rules.
Research has shown that the color of your car and probably its design can get you unwarranted attention from the cop.
However, the most pulled-over cars are white and sporty cars. The way you drive can also make law enforcement suspicious and make them pull you over.
Do Teslas Slow Down For Cops?
A Tesla driver will certainly slow down when the car is being flagged down by the cops, but if the vehicle is running on its autopilot system, it cannot detect these signs and will most likely run into them.
To curb this issue, Tesla rolled out a software update for Model 3 and Model Y. This feature allows the Tesla autopilot to slow down for police cars when they flash their lights at night.
If the Model 3 or Model Y detects any lights from an emergency vehicle while on Autosteer, it will automatically reduce the driving speed followed by a chime sound to keep you alert.
The touchscreen also displays a message informing you about the reduced speed. However, when the police lights are no longer detected, the car returns to its cruising speed.
A Reddit user who owned a Model Y showed his car slowed down from 56 mph to 46 mph as he approached a police car.
This new feature was quickly added when the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that they were planning to carry out an investigation into the frequent crashes with Tesla models.
Please also read our article about whether Teslas respect speed limits on autopilot.
Will a Tesla On Autopilot Pull Over For a Cop?
The best a Tesla will do on autopilot is to slow down its speed, and that is only possible on the Model 3 and Model Y. It is also important to note that this reduced speed happens only at night.
However, in some reports, California cops have found a way to pull over a Tesla while on Autopilot. The California Highway Police reported that a sleeping driver behind the wheel was speeding down the road at 3:30 am on Highway 101 near Redwood City, California.
The police officer tried to slow down the vehicle, but it was not possible even after flashing lights and sirens. After calling for various assistance, the cops decided to get in the way of the car to at least slow it down.
The cops gradually reduced their speed and the tesla autopilot system matched and aligned with the vehicle in front. It later came to a halt several miles later.
After investigations, it was shown that the ‘Drive Assist’ must have been active for the car to slow down.
They also recognized a major flaw with the Tesla autopilot system, as it does not deactivate the self-driving feature when it detects that the driver’s eyes are no longer focused on the road.
You can read this article to learn more about whether the Tesla Autopilot is safer than human drivers.
Who Gets the Ticket When Cops Pull Over a Tesla on Autopilot?
Tesla has already given a sound warning to all users to ensure that they are in full charge of their vehicles, even if the car’s autopilot system is activated. Thus, the claim that “my car was on autopilot” may not fly when you get ticketed by the police.
A clear example was shown when a user was flagged down for going over 60 mph. However, in this case, the police were lenient with him, as they decided not to give him a speeding ticket for reasons best known to them.
Therefore, a driver is fully responsible for what happens in his vehicle and if road rules are disobeyed, the driver gets a ticket.
Drivers are even in a more disadvantaged position because Tesla claims its autopilot system can now read road signs and speed limits. They as well send warnings to drivers when they exceed this limit. At this point, there is really no excuse.
Could Self-Driving Cars Potentially Be Pulled Over By Cops?
For a self-driving car to come to a stop basically depends on the car itself and not the cops. Self-driving cars have microphones that can detect and interpret the sound of sirens. When the AV detects these lights and sounds, it will come to a stop.
Self-driving cars can also read traffic signs indicating stops and speed limits. These cameras may not function well when it is dark or rainy.
However, should the case arise when there’s an urgent need to flag a car down but it can only detect road signs and limits and not the cops. What happens?
Different technological advancements have been carried out on self-driving cars to make them detect pedestrians. And finally, in January 2019, the Waymo self-driving car passed the test of detecting a pedestrian.
This car could stop at the signal of the police to let cars from other directions pass. When this was over, the car continued its journey, also at the signal of the police.
Can a Tesla Outrun a Cop Car?
A Tesla can outrun most cop cars. When the Model Y and the Ford Police Interceptor were put on a race test, the Model Y crossed the mile mark in 12.93 seconds while the Ford police interceptor finished in 15.74 seconds.
Another comparison was the Model S Plaid and a cop car. The S Plaid reached a quarter mile in 10.42 seconds while the Colorado State Patrol Car was 6 seconds slower.
This is clear proof that a Tesla car would outrun a cop car if they go up against each other.
Meanwhile, you will likely enjoy this article about the ways police cars are different.