Tesla On Autopilot Caught Chauffeuring Sleeping Drunk Driver Down California 101
California Highway Patrol officers pulled alongside a Tesla car cruising down the highway recently and were surprised to see that the man behind the wheel of the car was fast asleep. When they tried to pull the man over, they found he was unresponsive behind the wheel and suspected he was driving while intoxicated.
The officers say that the traffic stop to determine if the driver was indeed driving while intoxicated turned into a seven-minute long ordeal since the driver was unresponsive to commands. The man fast asleep behind the wheel was Alexander Samek, a 45-year-old Los Altos planning commissioner. The officers had to outsmart the Tesla autopilot system to get the vehicle to pull over.
The vehicle in question is a grey Tesla Model S, and it was traveling south on Highway 101 at about 70 MPH. The officers said that the car was driving straight making them believe that it was in autopilot mode. While the incident raises questions for some about potential abuses of the autopilot system, had the drunk driver fallen asleep behind the wheel of any other car, a potentially fatal accident could have ensued.
To get the car to slow down, the officers used a traffic break where one police vehicle behind Samek with emergency lights on drove an S-shaped path across traffic to slow down vehicles behind the Tesla. Another officer drove a patrol car in front of Samek before gradually slowing down prompting the Tesla to slow down as well, and eventually stop in the middle of the highway.
The entire operation took about 7-miles to complete; once the car was stopped officers knocked on the window to wake the driver up. Samek was removed from the highway and given a field sobriety test before being arrested. Tesla is working to take human error out of the driving equation with things like Tesla Navigate on Autopilot. Eventually, cars will be fully autonomous and sleeping behind the wheel might not be an issue in the future.