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Tesla Model S Speeds Down the Highway With Driver Fast Asleep in Reclined Seat

That’s got to be one of the most dumbfounding sights possible, if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking at: officers from the Canadian federal police performed a traffic stop on a speeding, apparently empty vehicle – and found two people sleeping in the front, with their seats fully reclined.
Canadian police pull over speeding Model S with driver sleeping in fully-reclined seat 1 photo
That vehicle was, of course, a Tesla – a 2019 Tesla Model S, according to an official statement released to CBC Canada. The incident happened in the afternoon of July 9, on Highway 2 near Ponoka, where the speed limit is of 110 kph (68.3 mph). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were alerted of the speeding vehicle and found it to be traveling at a speed of about 140 kph (87 mph).

But that wasn’t the strangest thing. The fact that it was empty was.

“I've been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I'm speechless,” RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull tells the media outlet, in reference to the incident. “I've never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn't there.”

Perhaps even stranger was the fact that the Tesla accelerated when the police car approached it, with the lights and sirens on. Turnbull says it no longer had any other car in front, and it shot off at 150 kph (93.2 mph).

The Tesla did eventually pull over, with the RCMP saying both driver and passenger were sleeping with their seats fully reclined. They don’t say whether the car stopped on its own or if all that ruckus ended up disturbing the driver’s nap.

The driver, a 20-year-old man, had his license suspended for 24 hours over fatigue and was charged with speeding. Later, he was also criminally charged with dangerous driving. He’s expected in court this December.

The police say the driver must have turned Autopilot on and employed one of the “after-market things that can be done to a vehicle against the manufacturer's recommendations to change or circumvent the safety system.” Autopilot is not a self-driving system but driver-assist technology. Tesla clearly states that drivers must be alert at all times when it’s active, with their hands on the wheel so as to be ready at a moment’s notice to take over driving responsibilities.

Angie Dean, president of the Tesla Owners Club of Alberta, tells CBC that the only silver lining to this incident is that no one got hurt before the driver was stopped. Otherwise, it “gives all of us a bad name.” Truer words haven’t been spoken in a while.


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