A motorist behind the wheel and a passenger next to him were caught on video fast asleep inside a Tesla on a highway over the weekend. The footage, captured by Dakota Randall, showed a couple riding along the Massachusetts Turnpike — with no one seemingly alert.
The driver looked hunched over and the passenger also appeared to be dozing off. Randall posted the video to Twitter on Sunday. “Some guy literally asleep at the wheel on the Mass Pike (great place for it). Teslas are sick, I guess?” he tweeted.
Randall told CBS Boston he tried waking them up by honking but it didn’t work. “It was just so strange and baffling,” Randall told the station. “I thought I saw somebody asleep at the wheel but I wasn’t sure so I did a double-take. Sure enough, there was somebody with his head right between his legs.”
“They looked like they needed to go home and go to bed,” he added.
Massachusetts State Police told CBS Boston there’s no law against falling asleep behind the wheel of a self-driving car. However, Tesla does not consider its cars with the autopilot feature to be self-driving in its current form and it does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility.
Regarding the incident, a Tesla spokesperson claimed “these videos appear to be dangerous pranks or hoaxes,” adding that its driver-monitoring system repeatedly reminds drivers to remain engaged.
“At highway speeds, drivers typically receive warnings every 30 seconds or less if their hands aren’t detected on the wheel,” a company spokesperson said. “Tesla owners have driven billions of miles using Autopilot, and data from our quarterly Vehicle Safety Report indicates that drivers using Autopilot experience fewer accidents than those operating without assistance.”
This is the latest incident involving a driver seemingly asleep at the wheel of one of Tesla’s cars. In August, another video circulated of a driver who appeared to be dozing off on the I-5 near Santa Clarita, local station KABC-TV reported.
Last week, a National Transportation Safety Board report found the driver of a Tesla was using the car’s Autopilot system when a vehicle in front of him suddenly changed lanes and he didn’t have time to react before crashing into a fire truck near Los Angeles.
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