- A Tesla operating under Autopilot was on Sunday stopped by police, officials said Tuesday.
- Police claim the Tesla driver was asleep at the wheel while driving 82 mph.
- The driver told the deputy that he was tired, but denied being asleep.
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Police on Sunday pulled over a man from Illinois who they say fell asleep behind the wheel of his Tesla, which officers say was operating under Autopilot.
A Kenosha County deputy said he saw the 38-year-old man with his head down and “not looking at the road,” according to the sheriff’s department statement on Facebook on Tuesday. They said it appeared that the man was sleeping.
The man was driving a 2019 Tesla on Interstate 94. The car was operating under Autopilot, the company’s driver assistance feature, police said.
The deputy switched on his vehicle’s lights and siren as he followed the Tesla for around two miles at 82 mph through Kenosha County, according to the statement. The deputy was trying to pull the driver over, but the driver didn’t initially notice, the statement said.
Eventually, the driver noticed he was being stopped when the deputy drove alongside him, and he pulled over.
After the police pulled him over, the driver told them he was “a little bit tired” but denied being asleep.
The deputy told him: “I understand you have Autopilot … but you’re not able to make that conscious decision to stop in a hurry.”
The man was issued a traffic citation for inattentive driving, the sheriff’s department said.
In an interview with Fox 6 News on Wednesday, the deputy said he spotted on the Tesla’s front screen that Autopilot was engaged. He also said that officials attempted to pull over the same vehicle twice in February and once in August last year – two of these reports involved claims the driver was asleep, he added.
“Never let technology take over so that you take your hands and eyes off the road,” the deputy said in the interview.
Tesla’s website states that the current Autopilot system doesn’t make the vehicle autonomous, and that the driver should be active at the wheel. Experts told Insider that although Tesla says its cars on Autopilot are less likely to crash than average vehicles, there are major concerns about the safety of the feature.