A video of an Arizona deputy pulling over a Tesla driver for texting while driving has gained massive attention online.
In the video, Deputy Frank Sloup confronts the driver. The ticketed Tesla driver attempts to justify his actions by claiming that his car was in Tesla’s self-driving Autopilot mode.
Deputy Sloup’s encounters with individuals he pulls over are documented in his series “Fridays With Frank” on the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office’s YouTube channel.
During the interaction, Deputy Sloup points out the driver’s unsafe behavior of texting with both hands while using his knees to steer. The driver’s defense of relying on the car’s Autopilot feature is met with a sarcastic response from Deputy Sloup, who highlights that are no Autopilot exceptions in Arizona’s distracted driving laws.
The video captures the driver’s blurred face as he holds his phone with both hands and keeps his knees against the steering wheel.
In addition to capturing the interaction, the video also provides Sloup’s commentary on the matter. Deputy Sloup tells viewers that relying on Autopilot technology for driving is not foolproof. “This isn’t something I would trust my life to as I’m barreling down the road at 60-something feet per second,” he says.
Sloup goes on to say that he expects the court to share a similar viewpoint.
Although originally posted in April 2022, the video was reposted on Law&Crime’s YouTube page on October 16. The footage has once again gained significant viewership and generated discussions about the driver’s argument.
Many viewers supported Deputy Sloup’s decision to issue a ticket to the driver, raising concerns about the complacency associated with relying on Autopilot.
In August, Tesla increased the amount of time that drivers could remove their hands from the steering wheel while on Autopilot, as reported by The Messenger. Nevertheless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expressed concerns about the potential lack of supervision by drivers as a result of this new technology.
A report earlier this year from the Washington Post found that there have been 736 crashes involving Tesla vehicles in Autopilot mode in the US since 2019. This is a significantly higher number than what was previously reported.
Moreover, the credibility of Tesla Autopilot could have a significant effect on the US electric vehicle industry as a whole. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously said that Autopilot will decide whether Tesla is worth “a lot of money” or “basically zero.” Tesla currently enjoys 50% of the US’s EV market share.