While it’s easy for passengers to fall asleep on long journeys, for drivers, staying awake at the wheel is pretty much rule number one, no matter how fancy your car is.
A man in Canada, however, was arrested for exactly that, after police discovered the car going 150km/h down a highway in Alberta. The driver had his Model S Tesla on autopilot while he and a passenger were having a nap, with both front seats fully reclined
Though Tesla may offer ‘advanced safety and convenience features’ that are designed ‘to assist you with the most burdensome parts of driving’, staying awake while operating the car should not be seen as a burden. If you’re tired, pull over and take a break. Don’t just recline your seat and let the car carry on.
Royal Canadian Mounted police (RCMP) announced yesterday, September 17, that they had charged the 20-year-old driver from British Colombia with speeding and dangerous driving. He is due to appear in court in December.
As well as the charges, the driver was given a 24-hour license suspension for driving while fatigued.
The charges come after police received a complaint in July about a Tesla speeding on the highway near the town of Ponoka.
RCMP tweeted about the incident, writing:
Alberta RCMP received a complaint of a car speeding on Hwy 2 near #Ponoka. The car appeared to be self-driving, travelling over 140 km/h with both front seats completely reclined & occupants appeared to be asleep. The driver received a Dangerous Driving charge & summons for court
Alberta RCMP received a complaint of a car speeding on Hwy 2 near #Ponoka. The car appeared to be self-driving, travelling over 140 km/h with both front seats completely reclined & occupants appeared to be asleep. The driver received a Dangerous Driving charge & summons for court pic.twitter.com/tr0RohJDH1
— RCMP Alberta (@RCMPAlberta) September 17, 2020
The car was apparently going more than 140km/h, but sped up to ‘exactly’ 150km/h after police flashed their lights at the vehicle. The speed limit on most of Canada’s highway network is 110km/h.
RCMP superintendent Gary Graham has since warned of the dangers of supposed ‘autopilot’ functions in cars.
As per The Guardian, he said:
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. They are not self-driving systems. They still come with the responsibility of driving.
Despite self-driving cars potentially causing chaos on the world’s roads, Tesla founder Elon Musk has promised all the company’s cars will be self-driving by the end of 2020.
Speaking at the opening of the annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai this July, Musk said:
I’m extremely confident that level-five [autonomous driving technology] or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly.
I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level-five autonomy complete this year.
Though self-driving cars may one day be a reality, perhaps Musk can encourage Tesla drivers to at least stay awake all the while. Safety first and all that.
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