A Tesla vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire in Houston this weekend, killing two.
Police believe no one was in the driver’s seat, which could mean that these may be the first deaths as a result of Tesla jokingly getting in the back seat.
The crash happened around 11:25 p.m. Saturday near The Woodlands in Spring, Texas.
Local police said the vehicle was traveling at high speed, missed a turn, hit a tree and quickly caught fire, leaving the two occupants dead.
Police told local news that no one was in the driver’s seat of the Tesla vehicle (via KPRC 2):
Harris County, District 4 police officer Mark Herman told KPRC 2 that the investigation showed that “no one has driven”; the fully electric Tesla since 2019, when the accident occurred. There was a person in the passenger seat in the front of the car and in the back passenger seat.
It was reported that the accident involved “autonomous driving or self-driving regime” in the local media:
While Tesla sells a “full self-driving package,” Tesla cars are not currently equipped with autonomous driving capabilities.
The current functions in this package are considered level 2 auxiliary functions and require the driver to be careful and ready to take control at all times.
A family member of the Tesla owner told local news that he jumped into the back seat of the Tesla shortly after retiring from the driveway to ride with his best friend.
The crash happened just a few hundred yards after the trip began.
Tesla drivers should not leave the driver’s seat while using driver assistance features such as Autopilot, but some of them promote the dangerous practice on social media.
Earlier this year, we reported on a TikTok star who posted a video of him sleeping in the back seat while his Tesla Model 3 was on autopilot.
He even posted a behind-the-scenes video on TikTok to show how it was done, even though it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle in a way that is dangerous to the public.
The only Tesla driver monitoring system that ensures that someone is in the driver’s seat, paying attention when using autopilot, is a steering wheel torque sensor that requires someone to apply torque to the wheel.
However, some owners avoid this by placing weights on the steering wheel to fool the Tesla system.
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