Tesla driver who blamed Autopilot for hit and run pleads guilty to dangerous driving

Credit: Tesla Asia/Twitter

A Tesla driver in Australia who attempted to blame Autopilot for a hit and run with a pedestrian back in March 2022 has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. The driver’s guilty plea comes after police analysis and Tesla’s own telemetry of the vehicle involved revealed that Autopilot was not engaged at the time of the accident. 

On the morning of March 22, 2022, nurse Nicole Lagos stepped onto the road on Wattletree Road in an inner south-eastern suburb of Melbourne, Australia, to board a tram. She did not make it to the tram, however, as she was struck by a white Tesla Model 3. The vehicle was traveling 58 kph (36 mph) when it struck the nurse. 

The driver of the Tesla, Sakshi Agrawal, claimed to investigators that it was dark during the morning of the crash, and that she had turned on Autopilot, as noted in a techAU report. She also claimed that the nurse had jumped in front of the car, so it was too late for Autopilot to avoid the accident. Unfortunately for the Tesla driver, the telemetry from her Model 3 and police analysis of the incident revealed that the crash was caused by driver error. 

As noted in an ABC News report, Autopilot was not activated at all 30 seconds before Agrawal’s Model 3 hit Lagos. Apart from this, Tesla’s data also revealed that the Model 3 detected a “vulnerable road user” and triggered alerts about a potential collision in the moments before the vehicle hit the nurse. Police further noted that no brakes were applied after the crash, and the vehicle actually sped up to 78 kph (48 mph) after the incident.

Defense barrister Nicholas Papas KC issued a comment about the crash. “What she did was try to beat the tram… The reality is she was trying to rationalize her own conduct, trying to explain the inexplicable and how she could do such a thing… When you’re approaching a tram in a 60 zone, you should slow down, and she hadn’t,” Papas said. 

Interestingly enough, Agrawal spent two years fighting charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury and failure to stop. On the eve of a County Court trial that was due to start last week, however, she changed her plea to guilty. Agrawal is expected to be sentenced by Judge Peter Rozen on May 10, 2024. 

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Tesla driver who blamed Autopilot for hit and run pleads guilty to dangerous driving
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