Skip to main content

Canadian cop chased a Tesla Model S that appeared to have no one in it

Highway police in the Canadian province of Alberta chased a Tesla Model S that appeared to have no one in it. But when they eventually got to look inside, they saw two occupants apparently fast asleep, with the seats fully reclined.

The incident occurred in July, with police announcing charges on Thursday, September 17.

As the cops approached the vehicle from behind, its speed was clocked at 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph). After switching on the patrol car’s emergency lights, the Model S then sped up to 150 kmh (93 mph), 40 kmh faster than the speed limit for that stretch of road.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Darrin Turnbull told CBC News said he was speechless when he saw what was happening, adding: “Nobody appeared to be in the car.”

Explaining why the Model S sped up when the police car turned on its lights, Turnbull said it appeared to be because other vehicles up ahead moved out of the way, opening up the road for the Model S.

The driver, from the neighboring province of British Columbia, was originally charged with speeding and given a 24-hour license suspension for fatigue. But following a review of the incident, he was later handed a dangerous driving charge and a court summons.

The sergeant said that the Model S appeared to be driving using the car’s Autopilot feature as the 20-year-old driver and his passenger apparently slept.

“We believe the vehicle was operating on the Autopilot system, which is really just an advanced driver safety system, a driver-assist program,” Turnbull told CBC News, adding, “You still need to be driving the vehicle.”

Tesla’s Autopilot feature allows for auto-steer and traffic-aware cruise control, but being asleep at the wheel of such a vehicle is an offense.

The electric-car maker points out on its website that “all Tesla cars require active driver supervision and are not autonomous.” As a safety measure, both hands are required to be on the wheel to keep the car in motion, with the car coming to a gradual halt if the driver fails to respond to alerts telling them to follow the proper procedures. But Turnbull pointed out that “there are aftermarket things that can be done to a vehicle against the manufacturer’s recommendations to change or circumvent the safety system.” It’s not clear if this was the case regarding this particular incident.

Digital Trends has reached out to Tesla for its take on the incident and we will update this piece when we hear back.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
The Tesla Model Y is far from my favorite EV, but I’m pretty close to buying one
Tesla Model Y One Millionth Car

I may finally be on my way toward buying my first EV. Sure, I've tested dozens of electric car models over the years, but despite that (or perhaps because of it), I have yet to buy one. But my family is growing, and my wife and I aren't so sure about carting our future kids around in an aging car that lacks the safety features of modern vehicles.

Because of the fact that we're expecting our kid in January, we have a bit of a deadline. So what are we leaning toward? Well, despite the fact that it's far from my favorite EV, we may actually end up just getting a Model Y.
Timing makes a difference
If the baby was coming along in a year's time, things might be completely different. There are a few reasons for that.

Read more
Tesla Model 3 vs. Hyundai Ioniq 6: Which electric sedan is best?
Front three quarter view of the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6.

There are finally some more electric sedan options. For years, the Tesla Model 3 was really the only good electric sedan that comes at a reasonable price -- until, Hyundai recently launched the Ioniq 6. The Ioniq 6 certainly takes some cues from the larger Ioniq 5, but is smaller and sleeker, with a design seemingly inspired by the Porsche 911.

But the Tesla Model 3 is still clearly an excellent option for those looking for an electric car, and who don't want a larger crossover. Which is better? Here's a look.
Design
The exterior design of the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai Ioniq 6 is quite different. If you've seen a Tesla car before, then you'll immediately recognize the Model 3 -- it looks largely like a slightly different version of every other Tesla (except the Cybertruck).

Read more
Tesla launches more affordable Model S and Model X, but there’s a catch
A 2021 Tesla Model S.

Tesla has launched more affordable versions of its Model S sedan and Model X SUV in the U.S. and Canada, though they come with shorter driving ranges. Deliveries of the new vehicles will begin next month.

The new Model S "standard range" vehicles cost $78,490 and offer a range of up to 320 miles (515 kilometers), which is considerably shorter than the pricier regular dual-motor and tri-motor Plaid versions that feature a range of 405 miles and 396 miles, respectively, Reuters reported.

Read more