Tesla’s Autopilot is a very capable system, but in its current state it cannot, and should not, be replacing human drivers. That holds especially true in the case of this incident, where said drivers were not of legal age to obtain a license, yet claimed there was no issue because the car was driving itself.
The event happened on March 26 in Palm Coast, Florida just off of State Road 100. As reported by the Daytona Beach News-Journal, officers initially pulled over the Model 3 for driving on the wrong side of the road. After they pulled the car over, they found that not only were the two girls inside not only unlicensed (and too young for a license in the first place), but no one was occupying the driver’s seat.
The 14- and 15-year old girls, one in the passenger seat and one in the rear seat, claimed that the Tesla was driving itself during the ordeal. It was later found out that they had come all the way from Charleston, South Carolina – a nearly 350 mile (563 km) trip – unbeknownst to their parents. And to make matters worse, during the traffic stop, the Model 3 proceeded to back itself up into the police cruiser.
Fortunately, they didn’t get off scot-free, as the “driver” received a citation for driving without a license, and both teens had to spend the night at the Florida Department of Children and Family until their parents were able to get there. While there was no damage done to the police car, the Tesla was estimated to need around $300 in repairs.
Sheriff Rick Staly commented on the matter: “These kids are very lucky that no one was hurt and their actions didn’t have more serious consequences. It doesn’t matter if you are driving a ‘smart car’, driving without a license is still against the law. I hope these kids have learned a valuable lesson and I am grateful that no one was hurt and only minimal damage occurred to their vehicle.”
Images courtesy of Flagler County Sheriff’s Office