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British Man Banned From Driving After Leaving Tesla Unmanned in Autopilot

May 01, 2018

HERTFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND – April 29, 2018 ( A British man has been banned from diving after turning on Autopilot in his Tesla and moving into the passenger’s seat, according to an online report from

In May 2017, Bhavesh Patel, 39, of Nottingham, was driving his Tesla S on M1 Highway in England when he reportedly placed the car in Autopilot mode and moved into the passenger’s seat. Autopilot is a feature on Tesla vehicles that enables the cars to make some driving decisions autonomously. In Autopilot mode, the vehicle is only semi-autonomous, meaning the human driver still needs to be at the wheel and paying attention to intervene at any time. 

According to Hertfordshire Police, a witness in a car next to Patel took video footage capturing him riding in the passenger’s seat with his hands behind his head while the vehicle drove itself down the highway. Patel was charged with dangerous driving and said in court that what he did was “silly,” and that it was unlucky he was caught. Investigators said he was “grossly irresponsible,” and that he placed his own life and other lives in jeopardy that day. 

Patel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an 18-month ban from driving, 100 hours of volunteer work, and payment of more than $2,000 in fees to the Crown Prosecution service.   

An engineer for Tesla told police that Autopilot mode is only to be used with a “fully attentive” driver, and that Tesla drivers should never completely depend on the vehicle to drive itself. In engaging Autopilot, Tesla drivers are warned to always watch the road and be prepared to take corrective action at all times. 

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Category: Auto Accidents

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