CHP officers outsmart Tesla going 70 mph with driver asleep at the wheel


New technologies demand new crime-fighting techniques. Two California Highway Patrol troopers in Redwood City spotted a drunken-driving suspect in a Tesla Model S around 3:30 a.m. Friday — then realized the driver was asleep.

The car was doing 70 mph on Highway 101, and the driver showed no response to their lights and sirens.

After 7 miles, and assuming the car was on Autopilot or at least on adaptive cruise control, the troopers came up with a strategy: With another CHP cruiser bringing up the rear to keep other motorists from approaching in case something went wrong, the troopers passed the car to position themselves in front of it, then they gradually slowed down — and the Tesla dutifully slowed with them, until it came to a stop.

The officers had to knock on the window to awaken the driver, Alexander Joseph Samek, 45. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

CHP issued a statement that said officers couldn’t confirm which technology was active — but clearly the driver was not.

At any rate, the troopers’ technique worked, and they put themselves at some risk by trying it. Presumably what we have here is another Tesla owner jeopardizing his life and the lives of others by relying on technology he’s supposed to be closely monitoring. And that seems little better than an inebriated driver actively engaged in driving.

CHP public information officer Art Montiel told the L.A. Times that there was no training for the situation the officers encountered. He credited their quick thinking for getting this car and driver off the road.

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