Tesla driver is caught SLEEPING behind wheel of his car for third time after cops saw he’d left it on autopilot while doing 82mph on freeway
- Mitul Patel, 38, of northwest suburban Palatine, Illinois, was allegedly the driver behind the wheel of the Tesla Model 3 during Sunday’s incident
- He was spotted dozed off while the car barreled down the I-94 in Kenosha County, Illinois at 82mph
- This is the third time cops have caught him speeding in the Deputies received calls of a driver who was being erratic and potentially asleep
- When deputies tried to pull over the car, the driver didn’t initially respond
- Dashcam video shows the driver finally pulling over, with a deputy admonishing him for seemingly being asleep behind the wheel of his 2019 Tesla
- Patel received a citation for inattentive driving. He also has to pay a fine of $187.90 and had his car towed
- His Tesla has an autopilot feature, but drivers are still required to remain active
A Tesla driver was pulled over by cops after he was caught sleeping behind the wheel for the third time, with his most recent nap happening while his car barreled down a freeway at 82mph.
Mitul Patel, 38, of northwest suburban Palatine, Illinois, was named as the driver caught dozing in his Model 3 while it was set to autopilot mode along the I-94 in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, just before 8am on Sunday morning.
Patel, a FedEx driver, was spotted snoozing by other drivers on Sunday morning, who called 911 over fears of a possible smash.
According to WISN, one 911 caller said the car would speed up when traffic cleared, while another caller claimed to see the driver with his head back and mouth open, like he was asleep.
Dashcam video shows deputies chasing the suspect, then pulling up to the left side of the car.
A Tesla driver was cited after he was caught seemingly sleeping behind the wheel
Deputies pulled the man over on Sunday morning after 911 calls about his driving came in
The Tesla then pulls over to the right side of the road – with its driver immediately confronted by cops about his sleeping behind the wheel.
‘Why would you drive like that?’ one deputy asks the man. Patel, who was wearing a mask, seems to respond by saying that he was ‘okay.’
The deputy added that the driver’s head appeared to be down and his eyes were not on the road.
‘I was looking at you and you were doing this. Your eyes were closed. So I know, I understand you have autopilot, but if something was to happen, you’re not able to make that conscious decision to stop in a hurry,’ the deputy says in the video.
As the driver tries to defend himself, the officer acknowledges the car’s autopilot feature, but says that it’s no excuse for sleeping behind the wheel.
Tesla’s autopilot allows the company’s cars to change lanes and round corners, but warns drivers they must be alert and have their hands on the car’s steering wheel at all times.
The company’s self-driving features are currently described as sitting at around level 2 in the self-driving scale – far below the level 5 that is considered fully autonomous.
According to the release, the deputy, David Gomez, stated that the driver did not pull over right away and was driving 82mph for approximately two miles.
The man behind the wheel has been identified as Mitul Patel, 38. He is said to have been caught sleeping in his car by cops on two previous occasions
He denied being asleep behind the wheel, despite the deputy observing otherwise
It took the deputy a second time of pulling up alongside the driver for him to finally pull the car over, after emergency lights and sirens failed to get Patel to heed the initial warning.
Patel denied being asleep despite the deputy seeing it, but did state he was tired. He also didn’t show signs of impairment.
Patel received a citation for inattentive driving. He also has to pay a fine of $187.90 and had his car towed.
While the 2019 Tesla he was driving does have an autopilot feature, drivers are still required to keep their hands on the wheel when the autopilot is turned on
This may not have been the first time Patel was allegedly operating his vehicle while sleeping.
‘I looked at the history and the vehicle with this registration was attempted to be pulled over two different times in February and August,’ Gomez said. ‘Both of them reported the driver appeared to be head down, sleeping.’
While the 2019 Tesla he was driving does have an autopilot feature, drivers are still required to keep their hands on the wheel when the autopilot is turned on.
Gomez added to CBS 2, ‘So if you’re doing this and you’re thinking you can go about your business and drive, no, do not let technology take over.’
Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, was killed when his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi about 2.30am. He posted numerous photos of his Tesla Model 3 to social media in 2020
Recent incidents involving the Tesla autopilot have proven to be deadly for drivers.
Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, was killed when his white Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi-truck at about 2:30am on May 5.
Before his death, the married father of two posted social media videos of himself riding in the electric vehicle without his hands on the wheel or foot on its pedal.
Steven Michael Hendrickson, 35, may not have had his hands on the wheel
The CHP announced that its preliminary investigation had determined that the Tesla’s partially automated driving system called Autopilot ‘was engaged’ prior to the crash.
That came just weeks after another Tesla smashed into a tree and burst into flames in Texas, resulting in the deaths of the two men inside, neither of whom was said to have been in the driver’s seat at the time.
Police had said it was apparent that there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash in the wealthy The Woodlands neighborhood of Houston, on April 17.
But Tesla had refuted police’s claims, saying a deformed steering wheel suggested that someone was likely in the driver’s seat.
Dr. William Varner, 59, and friend Everette Talbot, 69, both died in the fatal crash when the Tesla Model S – bought second-hand off eBay in January – smashed into a tree and burst into flames.
At least three people have died in previous U.S. crashes involving Autopilot, which can keep a car centered in its lane and a safe distance behind vehicles in front of it.
Last month, a Tesla smashed into a tree and burst into flames (above) in the wealthy The Woodlands neighborhood, Houston, on April 17, resulting in the deaths of two men
Dr. William Varner, 59, and Everette Talbot, 69, both died in the fatal crash when the Tesla Model S smashed into a tree and burst into flames
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