Reader Question: Sleeping Teslians?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Zane asks: Have you seen this news story about a Tesla driver sleeping behind the wheel? My question is do these “drivers” get charged with reckless driving, or is it just us plebs who are picked out of the crowd for “speeding” (aka keeping up with the real flow of traffic instead of the limits stuck in the ’80s)? Thanks once again and have a great day!

My reply: The laws haven’t yet caught up with this problem. This Catch-22, to be more accurate. On the one hand, even Tesla says that AutoPilot (i.e., the self-driving capability) only be used by an “alert” driver who is ready to “assume control” when necessary. But if the driver is supposed to be “alert” and paying attention to the road, why bother with Autopilot? The driver should be able to go to sleep. The technology certainly encourages it – and it’s risible for Tesla and the others peddling this tech to deny that it does.

Autopiloted or not, the law still says the driver is responsible for driving – even if he isn’t. So if the Autopiloted car wrecks, then it will be the driver who gets charged – whether he was actually driving or not.

The real problem is that this tech will encourage more drivers not to. And since the tech is no more infallible than the humans who created it, there will be wrecks. So it boils down to whether it is better to be killed by a human driver… or an Autopiloted car.

Also – an related – whether we want driving itself to be placed under the control of tech oligarchs and the government.

Not me.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. With all these self-driving vehicles, it’s only a matter of time until someone writes a country song about a guy whose pickup left him.

  2. The last thing I’d want is a vehicle that drives itself. I’ve made instantaneous moves that saved my life and others. It was because of a glimpse of something I saw or a situation building but not to the point of destruction.

    I once saved myself in a pickup from being run over by a big rig by pulling into a work zone(no people or machines present)when the one lane we were using turned into hard braking and I knew it would. The guy in the truck didn’t know this and had resumed big speed like the rest of the traffic. It wasn’t my first rodeo there so I knew somebody would(they always did)slam on their brakes again and almost cause a 30 car pileup.

    I moved into the outside lane with cones to keep you out at the moment I saw brake lights ahead. The trucker saw those lights on the cars right in front of him and locked em up and was sliding all 16 as he went by me. He didn’t even have time to do more than probably notice I was beside him. The gap saved the car in front of him and I saved myself plus his being into a wreck he caused. No computer can anticipate what’s not happening right in front of it. No thanks and keep that damned self driving vehicle far away from me.

  3. Guessing sleeping Tesla “drivers” will be largely ignored by heroes like other distracted or bad drivers are. There is revenue in “speeding” but not in ticketing old people and all over the roaders that Eric talks about often.


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