Police Arrest Tesla Driver Who Operated Car From Back Seat in California -- Update
By Rebecca Elliott
Police in California arrested the driver of a Tesla for
allegedly operating the vehicle from the backseat.
The California Highway Patrol said Wednesday it had arrested
25-year-old Param Sharma for reckless driving of a Tesla Inc. Model
3 on Interstate 80 in the Bay Area. Mr. Sharma couldn't immediately
be reached for comment.
Police said they had received 911 calls about the driver. The
officer in Wednesday's arrest saw the driver, the lone occupant of
the car, seated in the backseat, police said. Mr. Sharma moved to
the driver's seat and stopped the car on the shoulder of the
interstate, where he was arrested, the police said.
Mr. Sharma was charged with two counts of reckless driving and
disobeying an officer. He also was cited with using his vehicle in
a reckless manner last month, the police said.
The incident is the latest to raise questions about how some
Tesla drivers use their vehicles, including the advanced
driver-assistance features the company offers.
Tesla has said the driver-assistance system it calls Autopilot
makes operating its vehicles safer. The company didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which has the power to
issue safety recommendations, has previously expressed concerns
that there aren't clear rules in the U.S. about how companies
should ensure drivers pay attention when driver-assistance features
Tesla has said that drivers using Autopilot must remain
attentive with their hands on the wheel and that it has safety
features, including aural and visual alerts, to remind them to stay
People have long been uploading videos to social-media platforms
showing drivers appearing to defeat or circumvent Tesla's checks.
Last month, Consumer Reports said it was able to get a Tesla
vehicle to operate with Autopilot engaged and no one in the
driver's seat after attaching a weight to the steering wheel.
The vehicle didn't send any warnings about an empty driver's
seat, Consumer Reports said.
A fatal crash last month in Texas drew widespread attention
after local authorities said they found one of the occupants in the
back seat and the other in the front passenger's seat, raising
questions about whether or how the vehicle could have been
operating without anyone in the driver's seat.
The NTSB this week raised doubts that the Autopilot system was
involved, echoing earlier statements from Tesla.
Two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed
Markey of Massachusetts, recently called on federal safety
regulators to issue recommendations for improving advanced
Tesla is working on an enhanced version of its driver-assistance
tools. Chief Executive Elon Musk on Wednesday tweeted that the
company might put a test version of that software into wider
release within the next two months.
Write to Rebecca Elliott at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 12, 2021 18:15 ET (22:15 GMT)
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