Tesla on autopilot runs off New Jersey road, hits curb and signs: police

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- A Tesla on autopilot ran off the road in New Jersey Sunday night, crashing into curbs and signs, according to the driver's report to police.

The driver was not hurt, but police say he was shaken and his Model X is pretty banged up.

"The driver is telling us there was an alert. Something to the effect of ‘new lane detected’," said North Brunswick Police Captain Brian Hoiberg, who said the car got confused between highway lanes and an off ramp and split the difference.

"As he passed the jug handle, the vehicle gave him an alert vehicle on his screen and pulled hard to the right. At that point he couldn’t regain control of the vehicle. It wouldn’t allow him to. The vehicle went up a curb, hit some DOT signs for the highway, and then struck another curb, coming to rest on the grass on the side of Route 1 North," Hoiberg recounted the driver's report.

No summonses have been issued in this case. But police say even if a car is in autopilot, the fault still falls on the driver.

"The driver still, from what I’m being told by Tesla, the driver still does have ultimate control. In this case, the driver is telling us that he did not have control," said Capt. Hoiberg.

The car company's website states:

“The driver can override any of Autopilot’s features at any time by steering, applying the brakes, or using the cruise control..."

In a statement, Tesla told PIX11:

"Safety is the top priority at Tesla, and we engineer and build our cars with this in mind," said a spokesperson. "A driver can easily override Autopilot by lightly touching the steering wheel or brakes.Moreover, the brakes have an independent bypass circuit that cuts power to the motor no matter what the Autopilot computer requests. And the steering wheel has enough leverage for a person to overpower the electric steering assist at all times."

"Since we launched Autopilot in 2015, we are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage," a spokesperson added.

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