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Man charged with dangerous driving for being asleep while in a self-driving Tesla

Rachel Lang

| Last updated 

Man charged with dangerous driving for being asleep while in a self-driving Tesla

Featured Image Credit: Sundry Photography / Alamy.

A man in Germany has been charged with dangerous driving after having a nap behind the wheel of his Tesla.

The car's autopilot feature was enabled when the police attempted to pull the man over.

Bavarian Police said the 45-year-old man was driving at a speed of 110km/h on a motorway east of Frankfurt when officers attempted to pull him over.


In a statement, police said the man 'did not respond to stop signals or repeated horns from the officers'.

"It was noticeable that the vehicle kept the same distance from the patrol car in front from the Viereth-Trunstadt junction to the Bamberg-Hafen junction at 110 kilometres per hour," police said.

"Officers found that the Tesla driver was reclining in the seat with his eyes closed and his hands off the steering wheel.

"This strengthened the suspicion that he had left the controls to the autopilot and had fallen asleep.


"After about 15 minutes, the man finally woke up and followed the instructions of the police.”

Police said the man showed 'drug-typical abnormalities' when he was approached by officers.

Officers also reported that they discovered a 'steering wheel weight in the footwall' of the vehicle.

Authorities said: "This device is attached to the steering wheel to trick the vehicle’s safety system by pretending that your hand is on the wheel."


Private German drivers are not allowed to use fully autonomous driving features and must remain in full control of their vehicles at all times, as per the law.

It turns out that drivers are using common household items to thwart Tesla's hand-on-the-wheel feature, with one YouTuber demonstrating an orange can be used to fool the system.

Despite the relative newness of Tesla's autopilot feature, the German man isn't the first to try to catch some zzz's behind the wheel.


A similar situation occurred in San Francisco in 2018, when police in California arrested the 45-year-old man after he was spotted by officers cruising along in his car despite being fast asleep, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"When you pass out behind the wheel on the Bay Bridge with more than two times legal alcohol [blood alcohol] limit ... Driver explained Tesla had been set on autopilot. He was arrested and charged with suspicion of DUI," police tweeted at the time.

They added, jokingly: "Car towed. No, it didn’t drive itself to the tow yard."

Topics: News, Elon Musk, Tesla, Technology

Rachel Lang
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