Can You Sleep in a Tesla on Autopilot? Why You Shouldn’t

With the vehicles’ self-driving capabilities improved tremendously over the last decade and the captivating avalanche of news over the EV manufacturer’s growing success in using more complex cameras and sensors in their cars, one would naturally imagine that sleeping in these cars is within the realm of possibilities. So, is it illegal to sleep on Autopilot?

Tesla’s self-driving capabilities have not reached such an extent that would allow you to sleep in your car while on a cruise. In fact, the engineers at Tesla seem to be extra vigilant in this regard, introducing several safeguards to prevent you from sleeping.

Find out which safeguards Tesla has put in place and why exactly you shouldn’t try to get some shut-eye on your way to work or sports practice. People seem to be confused as to what is and isn’t allowed by law and Tesla respectively.

Tesla Safeguards Against Sleeping on Autopilot

Before delving into the Tesla safeguards on Autopilot, take a look at this statistic.

Safeguards Against Sleeping

Nash from “Tesla in the Gong” reassures Tesla drivers that it is not possible to sleep while the vehicle is on Autopilot. First, you get a nag if you take your hands off the wheel, which is, in essence, your car reminding you to place your hands back on the wheel. 

If you don’t place your hands on the wheel, your vehicle will flash an alarm on the touchscreen, followed by a loud beeping noise to wake you up.

In the event that you still don’t place your hands on the wheel, your car will shut off Autopilot and come to a complete stop. Watch the video below for a better understanding of how this works.

Did You Know?

Tesla came under fire in 2019 following several viral videos that showed drivers and even passengers sleeping while the cars were on Autopilot, against the company’s terms of use when using this technology.

These videos fuelled and fanned the flames of rumors that the Autopilot feature was inherently dangerous. These were mostly dismissed as hoaxes by perhaps youthfully exuberant drivers. 

Random Stat:

In 2019, it was estimated that drowsy or sleeping drivers cause up to 72,000 crashes every year, more than 40,000 injuries, and more than 800 fatalities. The Tesla autopilot feature was thus viewed as a welcomed solution to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities. 

Other Safeguards To Prevent Drivers From Sleeping

Tesla introduced cabin cameras into its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in 2021 as an extra precaution to prevent drivers from sleeping on the wheel on Autopilot. The cabin camera is a front-facing camera that scans your facial expressions to ensure that you are paying attention to the road when using Autopilot.

Sleep-In-Tesla

One thing is for sure: Tesla quietly listens to the criticisms and consumer concerns and diligently implements patches to fix these issues—albeit sometimes too silently. 

The cabin camera introduction represents the transition by the company to a camera-based autopilot system known as Tesla Vision. Accordingly, your vehicle’s camera will determine whether or not you are attentive and send alerts to the touch screen if Autopilot is engaged. 

But what about your family or others in the passenger seat? Does this mean that they cannot also sleep in the car while you drive?

Random Fun Fact:

In 2019, a US senator moved to force Tesla to disable the Autopilot feature to make sure that drivers did not lose concentration amid claims that drivers were sleeping. Clearly, 2019 was not the best year for Tesla. However, further tests to try and replicate the viral videos posted on consumer reports show that these videos were actually false, as shown in the video below.

Your Passengers or Kids Can Rest Easy, Relax

Both the Tesla Vision safeguards and traditional autopilot safeguards against getting drowsy or sleeping when driving focus on the driver. The Tesla Vision cabin camera scans the driver’s facial expressions, not those of other passengers. 

Traditional safeguards focus on several key areas, the most significant of which is ensuring that your hands are on the wheel on Autopilot. As long as your hands are on the wheel at all times and you have control, other passengers in your car can sleep without you receiving alerts. 

I wrote a somewhat related article about the best mattresses for sleeping in a Tesla Model 3. P.s. don’t sleep while driving on Autopilot; rather get a decent Tesla mattress and sleep it out while parked in a parking lot or caravan park!

Impact of Tesla Autopilot on Accidents and Crashes

With Tesla and its loyal following lauding the Autopilot features for their positive impact on bolstering safety, one would ask whether or not this feature has indeed reduced the number of crashes on American roads.

Let’s look at the numbers.

No. of crashes on AutopilotNo. of miles driven
Quarter 4 202114.31 million
Quarter 3 202114.97 million
Quarter 2 202114.41 million
Quarter 1 202114.19 million
Quarter 4 202013.45 million
Quarter 3 202014.59 million
Quarter 2 202014.53 million
Quarter 1 202014.68 million
This table shows the number of crashes against miles driven for Teslas on Autopilot.

Let us compare the above data for the same period for cars, not on Autopilot. 

Number of crashes on AutopilotNo. of miles driven
Quarter 4 202111.59 million
Quarter 3 202111.6 million
Quarter 2 202111.2 million
Quarter 1 20211978,000
Quarter 4 202011.27 million
Quarter 3 202011.79 million
Quarter 2 202011.56 million
Quarter 1 202011.42 million
This table shows the number of crashes against miles driven for Teslas not on Autopilot or active safety features.

It is evident from the data above that vehicles using the Tesla Autopilot features have a much lower incidence rate per number of miles driven as compared to those that do not.

This shows that, in many ways, the EV maker has been accurate about the potential that this technology promises for improved safety.

Tesla Pro Tip: Safety Tip With FSD Beta

As you get comfortable with FSB Beta over time, you must be careful not to engage FSD while keeping cruise control engaged. For instance, if you’re going in a straight line on the highway while thinking that you’re using FSD, it might become dangerous if the car is supposed to make a turn if FSD is not active. So, be careful not to disengage FSD while keeping cruise control engaged. Always check that the blue steering wheel icon is lit up!

Why You Should Not Sleep When Tesla In on Autopilot

Ensuring that you have control over your car by staying alert with your hands on the steering wheel is a matter of safety, both for yourself and others. 

If you sleep on autopilot, you risk being involved in a serious car crash that could result in serious injuries, fatalities, or significant damage to property or your car.

In Canada, a Tesla driver was arrested and charged for dangerous driving after allegations that he was caught sleeping in a self-driving Tesla on the highway in 2021. Due to the safety implications of falling asleep behind the wheel, it does not come as a surprise that any actions perceived as an abuse of the drive-assist system could land you in hot water.

Similar incidents have occurred in the United States as well, where police officers have pulled drivers over on several occasions for allegedly sleeping while behind the wheel with the Tesla autopilot feature on.

Naturally, law enforcement officials will take the necessary steps to prevent accidents involving autonomous cars, and Teslas are no exception. If you own a Tesla, be advised that sleeping behind the wheel with your car on Autopilot is not only reckless but could earn you a date with law enforcement. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tesla Making It Clear Enough That Sleeping on Autopilot Is Not Allowed?

Tesla has consistently warned drivers that the Autopilot feature requires active driver supervision. The company holds that Autopilot does not mean that the car is fully autonomous. 

Does Autopilot Have Any Limitations?

Autopilot functionality reduces in conditions of poor visibility such as heavy fog or bright lights, due to obstructing objects on the car such as bikes or from excessive paint or stickers.


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.