A bunch of young adults in Texas sat a dog in the driver’s seat of a Tesla Model X on Autopilot, putting not just an innocent animal, but also everyone else on the roadway, in grave danger – all in an attempt to go viral.
According to a report on Electrek, the case could be considered animal abuse on top of being a serious traffic violation.
Electrek has documented these irresponsible people putting themselves and others at risk by abusing Tesla’s driver-assist feature known as Autopilot. Tesla drivers have often pulled stunts like jumping in the back seat of their vehicles while moving and using Autopilot to create sensational social media content.
A Dangerous Autopilot Stunt
This is, of course, an extremely dangerous practice because Tesla’s Autopilot, despite its name, is not a self-driving system. It is a driver-assist system, which requires the driver to have his or her hands on the steering wheel, ready to take control at all times. If the driver is not in the driver’s seat, he or she obviously cannot take control in time to prevent an accident.
Studies have shown that Tesla’s driver monitoring systems are inadequate and don’t do a good job of preventing drivers from getting out of the driver’s seat. Now, here is a frightening example. The video was posted by social media personality Blake Messick who posts juvenile stunts on TikTok and YouTube, according to Electrek. The video showed a Tesla Model X driving on the road, seemingly on Autopilot with no one in the driver’s seat except for the dog.
Electrek reports that the people behind this dangerous stunt could face reckless driving charges based on Texas laws. On top of it, they could face animal neglect and abuse since Texas law has a clause to charge people for neglect while transporting or confining an animal in a cruel manner.
Serious Safety Concerns
This is yet another example of the potential for abuse with Tesla’s Autopilot, which is already under investigation by federal safety regulators in connection with crashes involving emergency vehicles. While there is no question that these types of incidents occur because people abuse the Autopilot system, it also sheds light on the lack of safeguards that could prevent such abuse.
As auto defect attorneys, we are extremely concerned about putting these semi-automated vehicles on roadways before the technology has been fully vetted and before safeguards have been created to protect not just consumers who are driving and traveling in Tesla vehicles, but also others on the roadway who are being put in harm’s way.