Canadian Man Charged for Sleeping in Speeding, Self-Driving Tesla

A Tesla owner in Canada’s Alberta province has been charged with speeding and dangerous driving after he set his car to Autopilot and took a nap while traveling at speeds of 93 mph, authorities said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) released a statement saying that on July 9, it received a complaint of a 2019 Tesla Model S speeding near the town of Ponoka in Alberta. 

After the vehicle was located, officers noted that the vehicle “automatically” accelerated once the patrol car’s emergency lights were activated and that at that moment a police radar detected the Tesla reached the speed of 93 mph.

After managing to successfully pull the vehicle over, a member of Alberta’s RCMP Traffic Services identified the driver as a 20-year-old man from British Columbia. The individual was subsequently charged with speeding and a given 24-hour license suspension. Upon further investigation, the driver was also charged with dangerous driving and was handed a December court date.

According to the RCMP release, officers found that both of the car’s front seats were “completely reclined,” and both occupants appeared to be fully asleep.

"Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that - supplemental safety systems," Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services said in the release. "They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving."

Tesla’s Autopilot system has been reported as contributing to several crashes. In August, a Tesla driver in North Carolina was watching a movie and using the car’s Autopilot feature when the car slammed into a Nash County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s vehicle in Nash County.

Some people have even lost their lives while using the Autopilot feature. Joshua Brown was killed in Florida in 2016 when his car hit a tractor-trailer while in Autopilot mode, according to the Sacramento Bee. During that same year, Albert Scaglione and his son-in-law, Tim Yanke, both survived after their Tesla crashed while it was operating in Autopilot mode, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Tesla has repeatedly stated that its Autopilot system is not meant to replace drivers. 

“When there is a serious accident it is almost always, in fact maybe always, the case that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency,” company founder Elon Musk said in 2018.

On its website, the company states that the Autopilot feature still necessitates driver supervision.“Autopilot enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane.

Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous,” the company notes..

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