NORTH BRUNSWICK — A Tesla being operated in autopilot mode got "confused" by the lane markings on Route 1 and crashed, police say.

The crash took place near Adams Lane in North Brunswick, when the Tesla went  off the road around 6:40 p.m., North Brunswick police said.

The vehicle could have gone straight or taken an exit but instead split the difference and went down the middle, taking the vehicle off the roadway and striking several objects including a sign along the road, according to police. The driver said that he tried to regain control of the vehicle, but it would not let him, police said.

Sign damaged by a self driving Tesla on Route 1 in North Brunswick
Sign damaged by a self driving Tesla on Route 1 in North Brunswick (RLS Metro Breaking News)

Police said there was extensive damage to the vehicle but there were no injuries reported.

Tesla, in a messages to New Jersey 101.5, pointed its materials in its press kit that say the autopilot function is an "advanced driver assistance system" that "is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time."

The company said in those materials the autopilot does not turn a Tesla into a fully autonomous vehicle "and it does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility."

"The driver can override any of Autopilot’s features at any time,” Tesla said.

The company later offered this expanded statement:

Safety is the top priority at Tesla, and we engineer and build our cars with this in mind. We also ask our customers to exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles, including following the car’s instructions for remaining alert and present when using Autopilot and to be prepared to take control at all times. A driver can easily override Autopilot by lightly touching the steering wheel or brakes.

Moreover, the brakes have an independent bypass circuit that cuts power to the motor no matter what the Autopilot computer requests. And the steering wheel has enough leverage for a person to overpower the electric steering assist at all times.

Since we launched Autopilot in 2015, we are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage.

The headline of this story has been edited to remove a reference to the Tesla as a "self-driving" car.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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