After a night in jail for reckless driving, most drivers would probably make it a point to make sure that they drive safely and well within the rules of the road. Not so for 25-year-old Param Sharma, who was recently arrested and subsequently released by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for reckless driving through gross misuse of his Model 3’s Autopilot features.
Sharma caught the eye of the CHP on the weekend after images of his Autopilot escapades made the rounds in social media. As could be seen in the photos, the 25-year old was sitting on the backseat of his Model 3 while the vehicle operated without a driver. These photos infuriated netizens, many of whom were Tesla owners themselves, as the stunt was not only extremely dangerous, but also a gross violation of how Autopilot is supposed to be used.
The Model 3 owner was arrested by the CHP on Monday evening and booked into Santa Rita Jail on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a Peace Officer. Interestingly enough, authorities noted that Sharma had already been cited for a similar incident in the past, with the 25-year old being reported for similar antics in late April. But despite spending a night in jail, it appears that the stubborn Tesla owner remained undaunted.
Speaking with KTVU on Tuesday evening after his release, Sharma confirmed that he has no intention of stopping his Autopilot backseat driving habits. He claimed that his driving was not dangerous, and that he actually went home from jail doing what he is now known for doing. According to the 25-year-old, his trip home from jail involved Autopilot operating a Tesla while he and a friend sat in the backseat.
“I’m gonna go in the back seat right now. You feel me? I’m waiting for my car to charge,” Sharma said, claiming that was he was doing is not dangerous. “I’ve been brake-checked before really hard, and the car stopped. The car came to a complete stop… I think people are tripping and they’re scared,” he added.
Tesla owners disagree. David McPherson, a South Bay resident who has driven a Tesla for five years, explained that actual full-self driving technology is not yet here. Echoing Tesla’s own terms for Autopilot, which clearly states that drivers must stay vigilant and be ready to intervene at any time, McPherson remarked that the risks are still far too great.
“Technology is not there yet. And being a Tesla owner, there’s still a lot of unknowns to take that risk or even consider it at this time,” the longtime Tesla owner said.
Autopilot misuse is a serious matter, and one can only hope that owners like Sharma learn that using the driver-assist system in such a risky manner is not only wrong, but irresponsible. After all, Tesla emphasizes caution for its driver-assist systems, with even members of the FSD Beta–which have access to features that are yet to see a wide release–still being required to pay attention to the road while operating their vehicles. CEO Elon Musk has even mentioned on Twitter that some members of the FSD Beta group have been removed from the program due to the drivers not paying enough attention to the road.
Sharma’s interview with KTVU could be viewed below.
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