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Tesla Vehicles Continue to Hit Parked Firetrucks - This Time It's Fatal

Another in a long string of accidents involving parked first responder vehicles and Teslas has resulted in a fatality and multiple injuries, including to firefighters working at the scene. Why don’t the Tesla vehicles stop?

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Another Tesla vehicle has crashed into a large stationary vehicle on the roadway. This time it is a firetruck working an accident scene. Teslas have crashed into semi-tractors, police vehicles, and firetrucks on numerous occasions over the short period of time Tesla has been producing its luxury-priced vehicles. Unfortunately, this newest crash of a Tesla into a stationary, high-visibility vehicle has resulted in a fatality, a critical injury, and injuries to multiple firefighters. Sadly, this is not the first crash of this type involving a Tesla that resulted in a fatality.

The latest crash comes amid a NHTSA investigation into crashes of this type involving Tesla vehicles.

Why Tesla vehicles continue to hit large, unmoving, or slowly moving high-visibility vehicles on the roads is a mystery. All modern vehicles are equipped with automatic emergency braking, which should either prevent or reduce the severity of such crashes. Even older Tesla models were equipped with such systems.

The latest crash was in California on a multi-lane highway in the early morning. The Tesla struck a large red firetruck with its lights activated while the truck was parked in such a way as to prevent the dismounted emergency workers from being struck by a vehicle as they worked on a prior crash.

Contra Costa County Fire Captain Chris DeMeo said that the Tesla hit the firetruck while traveling at high speed. He described the crash as "Very jolting. It didn't feel like it was real. All my equipment went forward," DeMeo said. Following the crash, the firefighters inside the blocking firetruck exited and began to render aid to the occupants of the Tesla. "We're trying to cut these people out and save victims," DeMeo said.

The latest local news reports say that the occupant inside the Tesla in the left front seat perished, and the occupant in the right front seat was critically injured. We refer to the seats as "left and right" rather than "driver and passenger" seats because there is no evidence at this point confirming any occupant of the Tesla was engaged in driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. A spokesperson from the fire department said that the firefighters sustained back injuries and cuts in the crash.

While crashes into first responder vehicles are not rare, Tesla vehicles are equipped with advanced automatic safety systems that include auto-braking, and also advanced automated driver-assist systems. Police say that at the time of this story's publication, it is not known if Tesla’s "self-driving" systems were in use. Tesla's Full Self-Driving system was recalled this week because of concerns it could cause a crash. Regardless of whether they were or were not in use, the vehicle’s automated emergency braking system should have been activated to prevent or mitigate the damage from the accident. The accident also comes less than a week after a Super Bowl advertisement warned of Tesla FSD safety issues.

Accidents of this type involving Tesla vehicles have been so common we were reporting two per month at one point. In one crash, not one, but two first responder vehicles were struck.

Here is a listing of some similar crash reports involving Tesla vehicles.
July 2020 - Police: Tesla On Autopilot Hits Not One, But TWO Parked First Responder Vehicles
January 2020: Second Crash In One Month Of A Tesla Into A Parked Firetruck Results In Fatality
December 2019: Tesla Model 3 On Autopilot Hits Yet Another Police Vehicle - Why Won't They Stop?
August 2018: Third Tesla Crashes Into Back of Firetruck - That's Four Crashes Into Emergency Vehicles This Year
May 2018: Another Tesla On Autopilot Hits Another Emergency Vehicle - You Can't Make This Stuff Up
January 2018: Tesla Police Blotter News - Tesla Driver Hits Parked Firetruck - Blames Autopilot

Please note that Torque News has chosen a generic top-of-page Tesla image for our reporting of this news so as not to sensationalize this fatal accident. The links and the embedded video displayed lower in our story have crash scene images published by other outlets.

John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his ten years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and TikTok @ToknCars, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Top of page image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

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Tom Gray (not verified)    February 20, 2023 - 5:55PM

This article implies that Teslas and only Teslas crash into safety vehicles.
It fails to mention that an estimated 2500 vehicles a year crash into fire trucks and some 6500 vehicles a year crash into ambulances.
Do all those crashes involve Teslas? Hardly.
But only the Tesla crashes get attention.

I'm so tired of this media bias.

John Goreham    February 22, 2023 - 7:14PM

In reply to by Tom Gray (not verified)

Hi Tom. You are not alone. Everyone is tired of hearing about Teslas hitting stationary objects. Of the vehicles that crash into stationary first-responder vehicles, how many claim to have technology that will allow for "Full Self Driving?" If Tesla's technology can drive a car safely without a driver operating the vehicle, why can't it see a firetruck with all of its lights flashing and apply the brakes? Why do you think Tesla's automatic emergency braking is not intervening?

Mark Day (not verified)    February 22, 2023 - 2:42AM

Other vehicles aren't computer designed NOT to crash into fire trucks, et al. Folks are depending on Tesla's AI, not to crash and burn.