Why You Should Never Rely Solely on Autopilot
Once the stuff of science fiction, self-driving cars are now a reality. Instead of a stressful commute or battling the traffic on a trip into town, you might imagine sitting back at the wheel and letting your car drive you to your destination. Pioneers of self-driving technology, Tesla now equip every new model with Autopilot features. In addition, they have the potential to be fully self-driving in the future. Yet drivers are still advised to keep an eye on the road to ensure a safe trip.
How not to drive your Tesla
One Tesla driver in Alberta, Canada forgot this advice in July 2020 when he was spotted asleep at the wheel of his self-driving car. Police said that the car was travelling at over 140km/h. Both front seats were fully reclined and the driver and passenger appeared to be asleep. The driver was charged with speeding and dangerous driving, and is due to appear in court in December.
Stories like this are still relatively rare. However, as self-driving cars become more common, more drivers may find themselves tempted to take a nap behind the wheel. But although Tesla’s Autopilot technology allows a car to steer, brake and accelerate automatically, currently Autopilot features still require active driver supervision. And that means staying awake and alert in the driver’s seat.
Eyes on the road
Tesla cars come with standard safety features. This includes collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking. But truly safe driving still relies on the driver having their eyes on the road. Although it may be tempting to rely on a self-driving car’s sensors, cameras and radar to track what’s happening around you, nothing can compare to the full attention of an experienced driver. And as the Tesla driver in Alberta discovered, the law still takes a dim view of anyone who tries to catch up on sleep whilst on the road.
Whether you’re piloting a futuristic self-driving car or a standard family hatchback, it’s probably best to pull into a service station if you ever feel sleepy at the wheel. That way you’ll reach your destination safely. You will also avoid a ride in a police car.