- Tesla‘s semiautonomous Autopilot feature has led to an alarming, if rare trend: drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
- In 2019, a record number of videos surfaced of Tesla drivers seemingly asleep on the highway while Autopilot kept their car moving at high speeds.
- Tesla’s autopilot has drawn controversy for its involvement in several crashes, some of which have been fatal – but Tesla argues that the feature makes drivers safer overall.
- These videos taken by other drivers throughout 2019 show the unnerving moments they noticed they were sharing the road with Teslas whose drivers were asleep at the wheel.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Most of the videos follow the same formula: Cell phone footage shot on a highway shows a Tesla driver reclining in their seat, hands not on the wheel. As the person filming the video passes them, it becomes clear that the Tesla driver isn’t even awake: “I think this guy is, like, passed out in his Tesla.”
Tesla’s semiautonomous Autopilot feature has led to an alarming new genre of viral videos in 2019: Drivers sleeping at the wheel while their Tesla barrels down the highway.
The trend has been heavily documented in recent months – in The New York Times Magazine, Peter Baker described the ominous sensation of watching a “human lulled to sleep inside a hunk of metal and glass, hurtling down a highway under the control of proprietary algorithms beamed on board from Palo Alto.”
Tesla has insisted that the feature makes drivers safer, and a Bloomberg survey last month found that over 90% of Model 3 owners agree. The company also says drivers must keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention to the road while driving on Autopilot – however, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly used Autopilot with his hands off the wheel during demonstrations.
Here are all the times Tesla drivers were caught apparently sleeping at the wheel throughout 2019.
In January, an anonymous tipster sent the car news site Jalopnik video of a “dangerous idiot” apparently sleeping at the wheel of his Autopilot-driven Tesla Model X.
View the full video on Jalopnik.
In March, a Twitter user posted a video of a Tesla driver appearing to sleep at the wheel on a Los Angeles highway.
— SETH BLAKE (@SethWageWar) March 4, 2019
Dutch police stopped a Tesla driver in May who was allegedly sleeping behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.
Read more about the Netherlands incident here.
In June, another Los Angeles driver was caught appearing to sleep while his Tesla drove down Interstate 405.
In August, another Twitter user recorded a driver who appeared to be asleep behind the wheel on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles.
@RalphNader Ralph can you do anything about stopping this disturbing phenomenon? My wife and I shot this video last week on the busy I-5 in LA. @Tesla #sleepingdrivers #unsafeatanyspeed pic.twitter.com/ADbpt0uSZ4
— Clint Olivier (@ClintOlivier) August 21, 2019
A driver on the Massachusetts Turnpike appeared to doze off behind the wheel while his passenger was also asleep, a video posted to Twitter in September shows.
Some guy literally asleep at the wheel on the Mass Pike (great place for it).
Teslas are sick, I guess? pic.twitter.com/ARSpj1rbVn
— Dakota Randall (@DakRandall) September 8, 2019
In October, yet another California driver was recorded apparently sleeping while driving a Tesla on autopilot.
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