Two young men in Palm Coast, Florida, are in trouble after reportedly taking a ride in a rented Tesla and allowing it to crash into a police car. And as if driving without a license wasn’t enough, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office reports that the vehicle was also missing something entirely different when they approached: a person in the driver’s seat.
According to the sheriff’s office, a duty officer attempted to stop traffic in a 2018 Tesla Model 3 last Friday. He observed the vehicle leaving a Wawa gas station shortly before 10 pm and beginning to travel on the wrong side of the road. The car came to a stop and then proceeded to back toward the officer’s patrol, causing $ 300 worth of damage to the Tesla.
The officer got out of his vehicle and contacted the occupants: two women minors aged 14 and 15, who were allegedly sitting in the front passenger seat and in the back seat when he arrived. To be very clear, there were no occupants in the driver’s seat when the officer contacted the teens, according to the police report.
The teens reportedly told the officer that the Tesla was “driving on autopilot” when he had backed up in the squad car. After some questioning, both teenagers claimed that no one was in the driver’s seat after activating the autopilot. However, one of the minors later changed his story and said that his friend only got into the back seat after the vehicle headed into the wrong lane.
Either way, blaming Tesla’s Tier 2 driving aid doesn’t seem like a likely excuse given that the autopilot generally operates in a future-oriented direction. A 2019 Tesla forum post may explain what happened: The car could have been accidentally put into reverse while trying to disable the autopilot.
The autopilot controls on the Model 3 and Model Y are located on the gear selector lever to the right of the steering column. Assuming the youngsters are telling the truth, the teenager controlling the Tesla’s functions may have tried to push the drive knob up to turn off the autopilot, and instead of parking the vehicle, he mistakenly pushed the knob up. twice and put the car in reverse. .
Drive It remains unable to reach Tesla to confirm whether the teen’s claims that the car is operated on autopilot were true, as the automaker had previously disbanded its public relations department.
What’s more, the teens had reportedly been driving more than 300 miles. Police said Drive that the teens had rented the vehicle using the Turo car-sharing app and dropped it off at one of their homes in Charleston, South Carolina. The teens had arrived in Palm Coast, Florida, while on their way to visit one of their parents. When the police contacted the mother of the teenager who was driving the car, she indicated that she did not know that her daughter had left the state, and the other allegedly provided false parental information to officers.
Police cited one of the teens for driving without a license, because there is no self-contained production car, and placed both minors in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families until the parents could pick them up. The officer’s report delivered to Drive It also indicates that a bottle of pepper spray and a “green leafy substance plastic bag” that was identified as marijuana were seized.
“These children are very lucky that no one was injured and their actions had no more serious consequences,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. “It doesn’t matter if you are driving a ‘smart car’, driving without a license is still illegal. I hope these children have learned a valuable lesson and I am grateful that no one was injured and that their vehicle suffered only minimal damage. “
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