A driver appearing to be asleep behind the wheel while using Tesla Autopilot in rush hour traffic on a Los Angeles area freeway has been caught on camera. According to a Newsweek report, this is the latest in a growing line of similar incidents involving Tesla vehicles. Footage taken by an eyewitness was first shared with ABC7. It showed the Tesla Model 3 car traveling at the 405 and 5 interchange with the driver reclined without his or her hands on the wheel. The driver was allegedly still unresponsive while taking the 110 Freeway exit. The eyewitness told ABC7 that he called 911 after spotting the driver.
Problems with Tesla Autopilot
This is certainly not the first time we’ve seen a driver take a nap while behind the wheel of a Tesla vehicle that is equipped with Autopilot. This controversial, semi-autonomous feature has been investigated in connection with several fatal crashes around the world. In 2018, a man was arrested in Palo Alto was allegedly being asleep inside a Model S going 70 mph on highway 101.
That man was detained on suspicion of driving under the influence. In 2016, Model S driver Joshua Brown was killed in a Florida crash with a big rig after the Autopilot feature failed to distinguish the white side of a large 18-wheel truck from the bright sky. The family of an Apple engineer who died in a Model X crash in Silicon Valley is also suing Tesla, alleging that its Autopilot feature was defective and caused the fatal crash.
Tesla Has a Responsibility
The car manufacturer has described the Tesla Autopilot feature as an “advanced driver assistance system” that is intended for use by an attentive person who has his or her hands on the wheel and is prepared to take control at any time. However, consumer advocates say drivers have been misled into believing that this is a fully autonomous feature they can always rely on.
In its current form, the Tesla Autopilot is not a fully autonomous vehicle. But the company has failed miserably in communicating that to consumers. Instead, it has lulled drivers into a sense of false security, leading them to believe it’s safe to let the vehicle cruise while on Autopilot and not really pay attention to the road. And this has proved fatal for more than one person. Not only is it dangerous for the driver, but also others on the roadway. Contact a California car accident lawyer if you have had an issue related to the Tesla Autopilot system.