It turns out that some men in Florida didn’t just decide to drink and let a Tesla do the driving for them, but they also filmed this extremely reckless act and posted it on TikTok for everyone to see. According to TMZ, the video shows the car driving down a highway on Tesla’s Autopilot with no one in the driver’s seat.
As they sang and traveled at apparent speeds of 60 mph with no one behind the wheel, cans of various types of alcoholic beverages such as White Claw, Truly, Four Loko and Natty Light Seltzer are all over the car and in the hands of some of the passengers. TMZ says these people posted the video on TikTok.
Autopilot is certainly not designed to be used as an autonomous feature. It’s not to be used as a designated driver, either. It’s a semi-autonomous, driver-assist feature needs the driver’s complete attention even when it’s engaged. At least four people have died in Tesla Autopilot-related crashes. In March 2019, a Florida man was killed when his Model 3 crashed into a tractor-trailer crossing its path.
That crash was similar to the first publicly reported Autopilot fatality in May 2016 when a Tesla could not recognize a semi-truck crossing its path. Since the crashes, Tesla has been telling drivers to be attentive and ready to take control of the car even when Autopilot is engaged. There have been a number of similar videos posted online involving drivers sleeping behind the wheel of Tesla vehicles on Autopilot.
Dangers of Autopilot
While there is no question that the individuals shown in this video were being reckless, the dangers Autopilot poses are real. There have been drivers involved in accidents who have trusted Autopilot to do its job. The name “Autopilot” itself misleadingly suggests it might be an automated feature. However, it is not ready to function as a fully autonomous feature. This is why Consumer Reports and other safety advocates have asked Tesla to change the name of this feature because it lulls drivers into a false sense of security.
Our auto defect lawyers are for technological advancement and we know it’s not a matter of if, but when driverless cars become more common on our roadways. But, new features and vehicles – whether autonomous or semi-autonomous – should never be put on the market before they have been fully vetted and tested.