Police Unable to ID Tesla Driver Apparently Asleep Behind Wheel on Mass Pike

Police say they have been unable to identify the driver of a Tesla who was caught on video appearing to be asleep behind the wheel on the Massachusetts Turnpike over the weekend.

Dakota Randall said he was driving on Interstate 90 when he noticed a Tesla with its driver and passenger both asleep around 3 p.m. Sunday near Exit 17 in Newton.

"I kind of looked over and saw what I thought was somebody asleep at the wheel and I was like that can’t be right, so I did a double take, looked over and sure enough this guy was just, head between his legs completely asleep,” said Randall, who is a local sports journalist. "It seemed like he had his cruise control on around like 55 to 60 miles per hour."

State police said they reached out to Randall on Monday, but he was unable to provide a license plate or any other identifying information about the vehicle or driver.

"At this time there are no further investigative steps being taken," state police spokesman David Procopio said. "We remind the motoring public that whatever the cause of the condition observed by the witness, whether sleep or impairment, it was extremely dangerous behavior that put the couple in that car and other motorists around them in danger. The operator would potentially be subject to criminal charges."

State police said they received no reports of any crashes in the timeframe that the video was reportedly shot involving a vehicle matching the one in the video.

Randall estimates that he drove next to the Tesla for about 45 seconds to a minute before speeding up and leaving the sleeping driver behind. He tried honking to wake the driver and passenger up but said "it didn't work at all."

He later shared the video on Twitter, writing, "Some guy literally asleep at the wheel on the Mass Pike (great place for it). Teslas are sick, I guess?"

Other people in the area with Tesla vehicles were shocked.

"It's just dangerous," said Darin Hager, a Tesla owner from Framingham. "I don't even know how they could stay asleep because the car's going to keep vibrating, making the alerts louder and louder."

"Things like that give Tesla a bad name and shouldn't," added Mary Beth Marciano of Boston. "I think that was ridiculous. They tell you you have to keep your hands on the wheel. I've used autopilot here and it's fine, and I didn't fall asleep. You don't fall asleep."

It's not clear how long the Tesla driver and his passenger appeared asleep to drivers.

The Tesla Autopilot feature is designed to actively guide cars from on-ramp to off-ramp, including suggesting and making lane changes, navigating highway interchanges, and taking exits. However, Tesla says on its website that the feature is intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time.

"Many of these videos appear to be dangerous pranks or hoaxes," Tesla said Monday night in a statement. "Our driver-monitoring system repeatedly reminds drivers to remain engaged and prohibits the use of Autopilot when warnings are ignored. At highway speeds, drivers typically receive warnings every 30 seconds or less if their hands aren't detected on the wheel. Tesla owners have driven billions of miles using Autopilot, and data from our quarterly Vehicle Safety Report indicates that drivers using Autopilot experience fewer accidents than those operating without assistance."

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