In a video posted last week to Storyful that has since gone viral, a woman can be seen apparently asleep at the wheel of a white Tesla vehicle on a California highway.
“That is too damn dangerous,” said Vasiliki Dolas, the woman who captured the video. “Sleeping and this car is driving you. Are you nuts?”
According to Tesla, autopilot comes standard on every new vehicle the company makes.
“Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment,” said the company. “While these features are designed to become more capable over time, the currently enabled features do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
Tesla said in a public filing that the U.S. Department of Justice previously requested information about its self-driving features. According to KTLA, the company is “currently facing multiple investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for issues with its autopilot and self-driving features.”
California also has regulations regarding autonomous vehicles and autonomous vehicle operators, and it requires manufacturers to report collisions. As of Feb. 3, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles received 548 autonomous vehicle collision reports.
“It is illegal and motorists have to realize that they have to be awake, conscious and sober so they can take control of the vehicle,” explained Officer Mike Lassig of CHP Temecula, KTLA reported.
Dolas said that she and her partner spotted the driver who appeared to be asleep at the wheel around 4 p.m. Feb. 2 on the 15 Freeway near Temecula, Calif., as they were driving home to Las Vegas, Nev., according to KTLA.
“That’s when Dolas quickly grabbed her phone and began recording,” said the outlet. She also said she tried to get the driver’s attention and honked for around 15 minutes but that she was unsuccessful. So, they called 911 to report the incident.
“We started honking to try to get her attention because maybe she’s having a health emergency or something,” Dolas said. “I really wasn’t sure.”
KTLA said a similar incident happened in 2019 when a “driver who appeared to be fast asleep was spotted on the 5 Freeway in Santa Clarita.” Another sighting occurred last summer, according to CBS 8 News.
“I do have five children,” said Dolas. “I am a grandma and I believe in safe driving and I know that even with autopilot, that’s just to enhance driving, not to take a whole nap on the freeway during rush hour.
According to KTLA, neither Tesla nor the Department of Justice has responded to requests for comments.
ABC 7 also said the California Highway Patrol confirmed to Dolas that the person behind the wheel of the Tesla was asleep. As of Monday, law enforcement had not provided any details about citations or charges, said the outlet.