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Is it legal to sleep and while your driverless car drives?

Is it legal to sleep while your driverless car drives


Up until recent years, self-driving cars were a far out idea that today’s drivers could only dream about. Autonomous vehicles flawlessly navigating the roads as the “driver” was free to sit back and relax for the duration of the commute was a notion that seemed distant and out of reach.

With the latest technology, this idea is not too far off. Although fully autonomous cars do not yet exist, there is a growing list of vehicles that offer advanced driver assistance features, making them as close as we have gotten before to “self-driving cars.”

Today, the cars that “almost drive themselves” exist to make long drives on the highway easier and less demanding. They maintain a set distance and speed from other vehicles and can take over most of the steering.

However, in recent news, owners of these vehicles have been seen to use the advanced driving features to doze off.

In the past few weeks, we have seen videos of two Tesla owners asleep behind the wheel. These are just a few of many reports of people asleep behind the wheel as their advanced-driver system is under control.

These scenarios go against both Tesla’s and the California Highway Patrol’s intention for these advanced features. Drivers who utilize Tesla’s autopilot system are meant to be fully engaged in the driving process and ready to take over at any given moment. This raises the question, if vehicles are self-driving, does it matter if the driver is awake or not?

The California Highway Patrol has made a statement that any driver caught sleeping behind the wheel can be subject to a laundry list of charges.

California law states that it is illegal to operate a vehicle in a way that puts other people or property in danger, and anyone who does so willingly is said to be engaging in reckless driving.

Sleeping behind the wheel of your autonomous vehicle can be subject to the same treatment as non-autonomous vehicles. By sleeping behind the wheel of a self-autonomous vehicle, you are still putting the lives of others at risk and engaging in reckless driving.

The consequence for being caught sleeping behind the wheel could urge the CHP to request the Department of Motor Vehicles to evaluate the capability of the driver. The tendency of the driver to fall asleep at the wheel will be considered as part of the evaluation process.

The bottom line: if you are too tired or occupied with other tasks, don’t get behind the wheel. Despite the growing technological advancements for some of these self-autonomous vehicles, you are still responsible for the vehicle you are driving and are required to be fully engaged and alert.

No one should have to pay the price for someone else’s reckless driving. If you or someone you know is injured in a reckless driving accident, don’t hesitate in taking legal action in order to hold the responsible driver accountable. The team at MVP Accident Attorneys is experienced in dealing with these cases, and are here to help. Reach out today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experience car accident lawyers, so we can get you a fair settlement that you are entitled to.


brett sachs2
Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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