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New Safety Concerns For Tesla Autopilot After Latest Crash

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — After a sleek, black, sporty Tesla was totaled after smashing underneath the back of a fire engine on the 405 freeway, there are new concerns about the car's autopilot feature.

The CHP says the driver survived and claimed he was using the autopilot feature when he crashed into a Culver City fire engine, that was stopped on the freeway helping another driver. The driver was going 65 miles per hour at the time of the crash.

"It looks to me at first impression, autopilot was engaged and a serious problem {happened} with a robot mechanism that Tesla has not fixed and that California Department of Motor Vehicles hasn't demanded they fix," Jamie Court, President Consumer Watchdog, said.

Court has been concerned about Tesla's autopilot feature, following fatalities in China and Florida where drivers crashed and died using autopilot.

"They can miss trucks that are in a color scheme that matches the background of the scene they're in and the radar shoots under the truck," Court said.  "So it looks to me Tesla has not fixed some of the problems that we've identified in the last couple of years with two fatalities. One in US and one in China."

Over the weekend, in the Bay Area, the CHP says a driver told officers he was using the autopilot feature after he was found drunk and passed out behind the wheel.

The CHP joked in a tweet the car was towed and didn't drive itself to the tow yard.

"I think autopilot, the name itself some people were critiquing because maybe it suggested more than what it was really capable of," Karl Brauer, with Kelly blue book, said. "But Tesla does tell everyone you have to pay attention and can't just ignore the road when you turn autopilot on."

Tesla sent us a similar statement regarding both recent incidents saying in part:

"Autopilot is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver."

Tesla can look at the car's data to see if the drivers were indeed using autopilot but a Tesla spokesperson wouldn't say if that had been done yet.

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