A B.C. Tesla driver has been ticketed for driving without due care and attention, following a video posted to social media appearing to show them asleep at the wheel with the car in autopilot mode.
The video was shot northbound on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows bridge during rush hour.
“I looked out the passenger window and noticed what looked like somebody just completely asleep behind the wheel of the Tesla,” the man who shot the video and asked not to be identified told Global News.
“From what I saw they were out like a light, but then there was a couple moments where it looked like they almost woke up, then went back to sleep.”
In the video, the Tesla driver can be seen with their seat partially reclined, and appears to be dozing, then snap to attention before dozing off again.
Tesla’s autopilot system is meant to assist drivers, but not to render the vehicles autonomous, according to the company’s website.
Drivers must agree to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control before enabling the system.
But there have been a number of recent high profile cases in the U.S., including some with fatalities, probed for links to the system, and a B.C. man was recently charged after allegedly sleeping at the wheel of a Tesla speeding on an Alberta highway at up to 150 km/h.
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U.S. auto safety regulators have deployed teams to 33 crashes involving Teslas, including 11 involving deaths, in which advanced driving assistance systems were suspected in being in use. Autopilot use has been ruled out in three of the fatal crashes.
“I’ve been in quite a few different Teslas and I’ve seen how their self driving systems work, so I do have a fair amount of confidence in the system itself,” the man who shot the video said.
“But with the rain and the construction coming up on the north side of the Second Narrows Bridge, that’s where the system can seem to have issues.”
North Vancouver RCMP Const. Kelly McIntyre said behaviour like that seen in the video raises serious questions about safety.
“What concerns us is people not paying attention while they are driving. Regardless of what vehicle you have, regardless of what features it may have, you are still required by law to be paying attention,” she said.
“We need drivers and people who see concerning things like this to call 911 immediately.”
Automotive correspondent Jeremy Cato told CKNW’s The Jas Johal Show that while advanced driver assist systems are becoming more common in a variety of makes of vehicle, they still have a ways to go.
“Many of these systems are not capable of recognizing when there’s major problems with the roads themselves, if there are foggy cognitions, or if there unseen potholes,” he said.
He added that industry leaders like Tesla CEO Elon Musk have “aggressively” touted the capabilities of the autopilot system, to the degree that some motorists may believe it is genuinely capable of driving the car.
“Automakers and their CEOs should be far more circumspect,” he said.
The driver of the Tesla seen in the video is now facing a $368 fine associated with their ticket, along with six points on their licence — which carries its own ICBC premium penalty of $432.
That driver also still has the option to challenge the ticket.