Story at a glance
- A 25-year-old Bay Area man was arrested earlier this week for riding in the backseat of his Tesla with the car on autopilot.
- Despite the arrest, he says he’ll continue riding in the vehicle with no one behind the wheel.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating more than two dozen accidents involving Tesla vehicles, and the car maker’s autopilot system has come under scrutiny following recent crashes.
A Bay Area man who was arrested for sitting in the backseat of a Tesla as it drove down a busy highway with no one behind the wheel says he’ll continue to pull off the stunt despite it being illegal and dangerous.
The California Highway Patrol arrested 25-year-old Param Sharma on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer Monday and impounded the vehicle.
Authorities had received several calls about a Tesla Model 3 with no one in the driver’s seat traveling east on Interstate 80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toward Oakland. Sharma had previously been cited on April 27 for similar behavior.
Sharma has posted several videos to his Instagram page showing him in the backseat of the vehicle. He’s become somewhat infamous on social media over the years for posting photos and videos showing off his apparent wealth and extravagant lifestyle.
On Wednesday, Sharma showed up for an interview with Bay Area news station KTVU riding in the backseat of a different driverless Tesla and said he has no plans to stop. He told the outlet he went home from jail by riding in the backseat of a vehicle once again.
“I have unlimited money to blow on Teslas. If you take away my Tesla, I will get another Tesla. That’s how it works,” he told KTVU in an interview.
When asked about the potential danger to others on the road, Sharma claimed it’s safer in the backseat for him and suggested he could get to the wheel in time to prevent any accidents.
“I feel like by mid-2022 the backseat thing will be normal. And I think right now people are just taking it out of proportion,” he said.
Tesla’s autopilot system allows the cars to brake, accelerate and change lanes automatically. But Tesla says the feature does not make the car fully autonomous and requires driver supervision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating more than two dozen accidents involving Tesla vehicles and the autopilot system has come under scrutiny following recent crashes.
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