Man falls asleep with Tesla on auto-drive, causes police car chase

The sleeping man didn't react to police signals telling him to stop resulting in a 15-minute case chase

Tesla are about to be approved for use in Israel (photo credit: TESLA)
Tesla are about to be approved for use in Israel
(photo credit: TESLA)

A man accidentally caused a police car chase after he put his Tesla on auto-drive and fell asleep at the wheel last week.

The chase began after a patrol from the Bamberg traffic police in Germany tried to do a check on a 45-year-old Tesla driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel with the autopilot activated.

The driver was on a main road around midnight when the police patrol wanted to stop him for a traffic check, but he did not respond to stop signals or repeated horns from the officers.

This resulted in a car chase that lasted for 15 minutes during which the police officers noticed that his car maintained a consistent distance from theirs and he was reclined with his eyes closed and hands off the steering wheel.

  Model Y cars are pictured during the opening ceremony of the new Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022. (credit: Patrick Pleul/Pool/REUTERS) Model Y cars are pictured during the opening ceremony of the new Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022. (credit: Patrick Pleul/Pool/REUTERS)

After 15 minutes, the man finally woke up and complied with the instructions of the police. 

What happened when the man woke up?

The officers also found a steering wheel weight in the footwell. This device is attached to the steering wheel to trick the vehicle's safety system by pretending that your hand is on the wheel. This led the police to believe that this was premeditated and not a case of exhaustion.

The man showed symptoms of having used illegal substances. After consultation with the public prosecutor's office in Bamberg, a complaint was filed against him for endangering road traffic.

In 2020, there were 633 deaths based on police reports. However, these numbers are underestimated, and over 6,000 fatal crashes each year may involve a drowsy driver.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

A preliminary investigation into the criminal offense of endangering road traffic was initiated against the Tesla driver. He has to give up his driver's license until the court decides the outcome of the charge.

According to a study done by the CDC, an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 years or older) reported having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.