Call 911 if you see a snoozing driver – Daily News


Q. I was surprised to hear from a friend that he has seen Tesla drivers on the freeway sound asleep while driving. He has seen them around midnight on the freeway slumped over. What is the protocol regarding this practice other than people posting it on the internet?

– Sharon Spitz, Irvine

A. When safe, dial 911. Just like when you see a suspected drunk.

“Definitely, call it in,” said Mitch Smith, a California Highway Patrol officer and spokesman.

For such emergencies, under the law, a driver can call even on a handheld phone.

“No vehicle available to the general public for personal use has technology currently recognized as being capable of driving itself,” a spokesperson for the Department of Motor Vehicles said in an email. “If someone is asleep at the wheel or distracted or under the influence, that is a law enforcement and public safety issue.”

In other words, the driver faces getting busted.

Motorists, Smith said, must be “available to react to anything that happens.”

So they must be awake and sober, no matter if the car thinks it can drive itself.

More than 45 companies have been granted permission by the DMV to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver aboard who, if needed, can immediately take control of the vehicle – they include Apple, BMW, Honda, Toyota and Tesla.

Now, there are more than a half-dozen companies that have been issued permission by the DMV to test without drivers, with various restrictions such as where they can go and during which hours of the day. But Tesla is not among them – yet.

“The DMV is reviewing the capabilities of (Tesla’s) ‘Full Self-Driving’ feature to determine if it has advanced to meet California’s definition of an autonomous vehicle,” the DMV’s spokesperson said. “If so, Tesla will need to operate under the appropriate regulatory authorization.”

Honk likes to close loopholes, Sharon: So, no, a snoozing Tesla driver is not in a vehicle that has been approved to function without a fully aware driver.



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