A North Carolina doctor who drove his Tesla on ‘autopilot mode’ while watching a movie on his cell phone slammed into police car on Wednesday morning.
Devainder Goli, a 66-year-old emergency room doctor from Raleigh, was charged with a move-over law violation and operating a vehicle while ‘viewing any television, computer, or video player.’
Authorities said the incident happened just after midnight on Highway 64 near mile marker 440, which sits near the Franklin – Nash county line,
Goli was driving home from Halifax Regional Center with his Tesla on autopilot while watching a movie on his cell phone.
Authorities have not disclosed what movie Goli was watching at the time. DailyMail.com has reached out for further details.
Dr. Devainder Goli crashed his Tesla into Nash County Sheriff’s Office cruiser on Wednesday morning in North Carolina
Tesla has branded autopilot mode the ‘future of driving’ and ‘are designed to assist you with the most burdensome parts of driving,’ the website said.
The feature allowed vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake by itself while within a lane.
Further down the road, a Nash County deputy and a State Highway Patrol trooper were conducting separate tasks near the roadway.
The deputy was completing a lane closure overnight on part of Highway 64, near Spring Hope, while the highway trooper was investigating a separate crash that occurred the day before.
Both authorities were standing outside their respective vehicles as Goli’s Tesla sped down the roadway with little supervision.
Goli’s Tesla slammed into a Nash County Sheriff’s Office cruiser (pictured), which then crashed into a North Carolina Highway Patrol vehicle
Goli (pictured), an emergency room doctor, was charged with a move-over law violation and operating a vehicle while ‘viewing any television, computer, or video player.’
Suddenly, Goli’s Tesla appeared to miscalculate and rammed into the Nash County deputy’s cruiser. The initial impact of the crash sent the cruiser plowing into the State Highway Patrol vehicle, too.
Move Over Law
Move over laws were implemented in all 50 states in America and are meant to keep law enforcement safe on roadways.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said ‘Cars and trucks speeding by just inches away leaves too little margin for error and could so easily result in a disastrous crash.’
‘America’s first responders – police, fire, EMT’s– face this peril every day in the line of duty.’
The law requires residents to move over a lane or slow down if a vehicle with emergency lights are on.
Since 1997, more than 150 law enforcement officers have been struck by speeding vehicles.
Between 2007 and 2017, 39 per cent of law enforcement deaths were credited to traffic-related incidents.
The deputy and trooper were knocked to the pavement during the incident, but neither suffered any injuries.
‘Luckily, the state trooper pushed our deputy out of the way when he heard the tires squall and in an instant we could have lost a life or several lives.’ Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told WRAL. ‘It could have been very horrific.’
Tesla’s website added that current autopilot software required active driver supervision and don’t make the vehicle autonomous.
Photos taken at the scene showed the Sheriff’s cruiser and Goli’s Tesla taking the brunt of the damage.
The Tesla’s front bumper was completely ripped off and much of the front has been scratched, dented and pulled apart.
The Nash County cruiser took significant damage to the driver side, with the entire back left wheel detached and the steel crumpled like a piece of paper.
‘There needs to come a time when we need to understand that automation can not do everything,’ said Stone.
‘It’s not enhancing our safety, and in this situation, it could kill two law enforcement agents.’
Stone’s sentiments are echoed by the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program, which reminded residents that the move over law is still very much in effect.
‘Autonomous or not, the rules of the road still remain #moveovernc,’ they wrote, adding, ‘We’re so very glad everyone left the crash scene alive.’
The Nash County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook reiterated the law on Facebook, as well as admitted they ‘don’t recommend watching a movie while driving down the road, even if your car is driving for you.’
Tesla, created by billionaire tech giant Elon Musk, has heralded its autopilot technology since it first introduced in 2015.
Last October, the company boasted in its third quarter report that cars using autopilot were nine times safer than the average driver.
According to Tesla, autopilot vehicles were involved in one car accident for every 4.34million miles driven during that quarter. The average accident rate for human drivers in the United States is one accident every half million miles.
Still, a number of Tesla crashes involving autopilot have been recorded and the National Transportation Safety Board criticized the design, as well as federal safety regulations.
In March 2018, Apple engineer Walter Huang died when his Tesla Model X crashed into a concrete barrier along a California highway.
Data from Huang’s crash showed his SUV did not brake or try to steer around the barrier in the three seconds before the crash. The car also sped up from 62mph to 71 mph just before crashing.
Walter Huang, an Apple engineer and father-of-two, died after his Tesla veered off U.S. 101 in Silicon Valley and into a concrete barrier in March 2018. The wreckage of his Tesla is pictured above
Walter Huang (pictured) reportedly complained about his Tesla’s autopilot before he died during a fiery crash in 2018
In addition to the description of the autopilot malfunction, the documents also included data that showed Huang had been using his phone at the time of the crash and didn’t have his hands on the steering wheel.
In February 2020, court documents filed by Huang’s family claimed her had previously complained about the autopilot feature.
‘Walter said the car would veer toward the barrier in the mornings when he went to work,’ the Huang family’s attorney wrote in a response to NTSB questions.
In April 2020, the family of Yoshihiro Umeda, 44, of Japan, sued Tesla after he was fatally hit by a Model X in 2018.
Pictured: Dash cam footage shows the Tesla Model X crash after Umeda was run over on Tomei Expressway
Documents filed in San Jose federal court by widow Tomomi Umeda and daughter Miyu Umeda claimed Umeda was the victim of a ‘patent defect’ in Tesla’s technology.
The driver of the Model X had fallen asleep behind the wheel and the vehicle’s autopilot features did not recognize Umeda standing along the roadway.
Court documents referred to Tesla’s autopilot system as ‘half-baked’ and ‘non-market-ready’
The plaintiffs took fault with the uncertainty of the vehicle’s ability to adapt to roadways in real time.
There have been four fatal self-driving car accidents involving Tesla since 2016.
Timeline of fatal crashes tied to Tesla Autopilot
January 20, 2016 in China: Gao Yaning, 23, died when the Tesla Model S he was driving slammed into a road sweeper on a highway near Handan, a city about 300 miles south of Beijing. Chinese media reported that Autopilot was engaged.
May 7, 2016 in Williston, Florida: Joshua D. Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio died when cameras in his Tesla Model S failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky.
The National Transportation and Safety Board found that the truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way and a car driver’s inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation were the probable cause of the crash.
The NTSB also noted that Tesla Autopilot permitted the car driver to become dangerously disengaged with driving. A DVD player and Harry Potter movies were found in the car.
March 23, 2018 in Mountain View, California: Apple software engineer Walter Huang, 38, died in a crash on U.S. Highway 101 with the Autopilot on his Tesla engaged.
The vehicle accelerated to 71 mph seconds before crashing into a freeway barrier, federal investigators found.
The NTSB, in a preliminary report on the crash, also said that data shows the Model X SUV did not brake or try to steer around the barrier in the three seconds before the crash in Silicon Valley.
March 1, 2019 in Delray, Florida: Jeremy Banner, 50, died when his 2018 Tesla Model 3 slammed into a semi-truck.
NTSB investigators said Banner turned on the autopilot feature about 10 seconds before the crash, and the autopilot did not execute any evasive maneuvers to avoid the crash.