Two Killed in Driverless Tesla Crash in Texas
An underage teen in Florida who was driving a Tesla without a driver’s license or the owner’s permission got creative when she was stopped by police. According to an Electrek news report, officials said she decided to get into the back seat and claim that the Tesla was self-driving. The incident occurred near Daytona Beach where a law enforcement officer pulled over a Tesla Model Y that was driving on the wrong side of the road.
After the vehicle stopped, it slowly backed up into the police cruiser. When the deputy walked to the driver’s window to see what the problem was, he found no one was in the driver’s seat. Instead, the officer found two girls, 14 and 15, one in the back seat and one in the front passenger seat. Both girls claimed no one was driving the vehicle and that the vehicle was self-driving.
While Tesla does sell a “Full Self-Driving package,” the feature-complete version of the package is only being tested in “Beta version,” with a few thousand cars, and it requires someone in the driver’s seat. The responsibility at all times remains with the driver. The deputies, in this case, of course, quickly determined that the teen girls were lying to hide the fact that they were not supposed to be driving the electric car.
The girls had apparently driven all the way from Charleston, South Carolina – more than 300 miles away – and the mother of the driver thought they were at her grandmother’s. Law enforcement officials are using this incident to highlight just how fortunate these girls were that their actions did not have more serious consequences. They clarified that driving a “smart car” without a driver’s license is still against the law. The teen got a citation for driving without a license.
Sadly, this is not the first time drivers have tried to blame Tesla’s Autopilot for bad driving or illegal driving. In 2018, a drunk driver tried to get out of a DUI by claiming that his Tesla was “driving itself.” Here in Southern California, we’ve seen a number of videos posted to social media showing Tesla drivers asleep at the wheel when their vehicle was on Autopilot traveling at freeway speeds.
While Tesla’s Autopilot is facing investigations from federal officials, our auto defect lawyers have been consistently warning that the name “Autopilot” is in itself misleading because it doesn’t clearly tell consumers what its capabilities are. Automakers are playing a dangerous game when they use the public as guinea pigs to test their new technologies. No automated or semi-automated technology should be released to consumers without proper testing.