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Tesla driver says autopilot feature nearly killed him

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(KRON) — A California driver said he feels thankful to be alive after his new Tesla veered off the road, accelerated, and crashed while in autopilot mode.

“I was a proud Tesla owner a few months ago. I was certain that I had invested in a reliable and safe car, in a brand that pioneers the future. My faith was shaken though when autopilot went horribly wrong, leading to a harrowing event,” Seneca Musoka wrote on LinkedIn.

Musoka originally planned to buy a Tesla Model X as his “dream car,” but the model’s price tag was too high. He settled for a Tesla Model 3.

Musoka said he went on an “ordinary” drive in his new car and listened to music. His Tesla Model 3 hummed in autopilot mode.

“But in a blink, it all went sideways — quite literally. My Tesla abruptly veered off the road. It wasn’t just a slight drift or a wrong turn. My car sped up with an unnerving suddenness, the acceleration was immediate. Before I could process what was happening, the car was hurtling down an embankment, the terrifying descent coming to a jarring halt mere inches away from a mammoth tree,” he wrote.

“I managed to crawl out of the car, wincing at the shards of glass embedded in my head and back. A bruised sternum and several bruised ribs throbbed with pain, but the knowledge that I was still alive was strangely soothing,” Musoka wrote.

Musoka said California Highway Patrol officers at the crash scene said he was lucky to have survived the wreck.

“They weren’t wrong. But it wasn’t just the tree I narrowly avoided, or the river that was a heart-stopping 50 yards away. It was the realization that my life hung in the balance, thanks to a malfunction in a technology,” Musoka wrote.

Tesla did not respond to KRON4’s request for comment Thursday.

Autopilot comes as a standard feature in every new Tesla, according to the company. Tesla’s website describes its technology as “an advanced driver assistance system that enhances safety and convenience behind the wheel. When used properly, autopilot reduces your overall workload as a driver.”

Musoka said he still thinks Tesla builds “fantastic” vehicles, but he does not recommend using the autopilot feature. “It was an amazing car. Just that one feature was a bit of a concern,” he told KRON4.

An investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office is underway probing Tesla’s technology, CNBC reported Thursday. The investigation was launched in response to complaints from customers and Tesla employees who raised red flags over autopilot safety issues.

Autopilot technology is also being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in response to dozens of Tesla crashes in 2022.

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