Canadian driver pulled over for sleeping while speeding on autopilot

Edmonton, Canada- On a highway in Canada, police stopped a 20-year-old driver who was napping while his Tesla was on autopilot. The electric car was apparently going at more than 90 mph. 

A Tesla driver leaned back and took a nap while going 90mph (stock image).
A Tesla driver leaned back and took a nap while going 90mph (stock image).  © 06photo/123RF

Both the driver's and the passenger's seat were completely reclined and the two occupants seemed to be asleep. When the patrol flashed its lights, the car automatically accelerated to 95 mph. The speed limit on the highway was 70 mph.

Officer Darrin Turnbull told CBC News that he had never seen anything like it. "Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going," he said. "I've been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I'm speechless."

The system known as autopilot is an advanced driver assistance program, but the driver still has to remain alert and ready to take over control at any point. But the manufacturer's built-in safety features, which include a warning signal if the hands are removed from the steering wheel, can be deactivated and the car can technically continue to drive itself.

The police charged the young man with speeding and added at 24-hour license suspension for fatigue – he was napping, after all. After an investigation, he was later also charged with dangerous driving. The driver will have to appear in court in December.

The incident took place in early July near Ponoka, Alberta, but was only recently made public. The police were alerted to the speeding by a caller.

The Canadian police were able to stop the Tesla at 150 km/h. (stock image)
The Canadian police were able to stop the Tesla at 150 km/h. (stock image)  © kelifamily/123RF

Elon Musk has defended Tesla's autopilot driver assistance system

In August, Elon Musk spoke out against criticism of Tesla's driver assistance program. Musk told the magazine Automobile News that the term is in no way misleading and that the outrage about it is "idiotic."

After several fatal accidents involving the technology, critics have said that Tesla is to blame because the name suggests that the system is meant for autonomous driving and not simply for driver assistance.

Cover photo: 06photo/123RF

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