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Cop to Driver: 'I Followed You for About 2 Miles and You Were Sleeping'

Wisconsin authorities say man was behind the wheel of a Tesla using its Autopilot feature
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2021 7:53 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2021 4:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – According to the Tesla website, the Autopilot feature built in to all of its new vehicles offers "advanced safety and convenience features ... designed to assist you with the most burdensome parts of driving." For an Illinois man who took a spin in Wisconsin over the weekend, one of those burdens seemed to be staying awake. Per a release out of the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department, a deputy was sent to a stretch of Interstate 94 on Sunday morning after a report came in of a man who appeared to be sleeping behind the wheel of his 2019 Tesla. The deputy pulled alongside the fast-moving car after he'd tracked it down and observed "the driver's head was down and was not looking at the road," according to the release, which notes the deputy then put on his siren and lights and shadowed the Tesla, which was cruising at a speed of 82mph, for about 2 miles. At that point, the driver noticed what was happening and pulled over, per the release.

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"I followed you for about 2 miles and you were sleeping, you were totally like this in the car," the deputy can be heard saying to the driver in bodycam footage that's been released by the sheriff's department, per CNN. "Your eyes were closed. I understand you have Autopilot, but if something was to happen, you're not able to make that conscious decision to stop in a hurry." The driver, identified as a 38-year-old from Palatine, Ill., can be heard in the footage insisting he was tired but hadn't been sleeping as he drove to work. Deputies say there were no signs the driver was otherwise impaired or suffering from a medical condition and issued him a citation for inattentive driving. The Tesla was towed—deputies didn't feel it was safe for the man to keep driving—and he'll have to undergo an investigation to see if he's fit to drive. Tesla's take on using Autopilot, per its site: "Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous." (Read more Tesla stories.)

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