Tesla driver banned from road after dangerous highway stunt

A British man who turned on his Tesla’s autopilot and moved into the car’s passenger seat — while the car was cruising down a highway — has been temporarily banned from driving.

Bhavesh Patel, 39, of Nottingham, was driving his white Tesla S on England’s M1 highway in May 2017 when he left the car unmanned, Hertfordshire Police said in a news release.

While the car was moving, Patel turned the Tesla’s autopilot feature and abandoned the vehicle’s steering wheel and foot pedals to slide over to the passenger’s seat.

A witness in a car driving past Patel captured video showing him in the passenger seat. Police said Patel “appeared to have his hands behind his head.”

A Tesla engineer told police that the car’s autopilot features are intended to be used by a “fully-attentive driver,” and that drivers should “never depend on [Traffic-Aware Cruise Control] to adequately slow down model S.”

Tesla warns drivers, “Always watch the road in front of you and be prepared to take corrective action at all times. Failure to do so can result in serious injury or death.”

Investigators said Patel “was grossly irresponsible” and his actions “could have easily ended in tragedy. He not only endangered his own life but the lives of other innocent people using the motorway on that day.”

Patel admitted in court that what he did was “silly” but said he happened to be the “unlucky one who got caught.”

He pleaded guilty on April 20 to dangerous driving. Among his punishments: he was banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to perform 100 hours of volunteer work — in addition to paying more than $2,100 in fees to the Crown Prosecution service.

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