Deceptive Steering Wheel Weights: The Reckless Trend Among Tesla Owners and the Dangers of Misusing Autopilot
Recent reports have shed light on a concerning trend among Tesla owners, who are using inexpensive steering wheel weights to deceive their vehicles’ Autopilot system. These weights have gained popularity among users of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature, as they are marketed for seemingly mundane purposes such as relieving shoulder pain or serving as phone holders. However, their true purpose is to trick the car into thinking the driver’s hands are on the wheel while they attempt to rely on the autonomous driving capabilities of the vehicle, despite Tesla’s requirement for drivers to remain attentive and ready to take control at any moment.
This behavior is highly reckless, especially considering the recent surge in Tesla Autopilot-related fatalities. These weights can be readily found for sale on various online marketplaces, including popular platforms like Amazon and Alibaba’s AliExpress. While some listings have been removed following the publication of The Washington Post’s report, comments left by users on the product pages clearly indicate their true intention, despite the product descriptions suggesting otherwise.
For instance, an Amazon review of a product named the “Steering Wheel Glass Breaker” stated, “If you use it in city streets then it’ll work without any alerts. Use it at your own risk.” Another user claimed to have tested the product on a 38-mile drive, reporting that there were no Autopilot alerts throughout the entire journey. It is essential to emphasize that Tesla’s alerts are crucial safety measures. Tesla’s self-driving features are not flawless and have been involved in multiple fatal accidents. By using these inexpensive weights to deceive the system, drivers not only put themselves at risk but also endanger the lives of other road users.
While the prevalence of such products is deeply concerning, experts argue that it is not entirely surprising. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has made statements suggesting that the vehicles are capable of driving themselves, leading drivers to interpret these claims quite literally. Philip Koopman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an authority on autonomous vehicle safety, acknowledged this issue, stating, “Elon Musk’s saying it’s supposed to drive itself. That’s what they’re going to hear. How do you think they’re going to behave?”
In response to the report, Amazon has taken steps to address the problem. A spokesperson for the company affirmed that the mentioned products were misleadingly listed and have been removed. Amazon maintains a zero-tolerance policy for illegal or deceptive behavior, and it actively works to combat bad actors who misrepresent products to customers.
In conclusion, the use of inexpensive steering wheel weights to deceive Tesla’s Autopilot system presents significant risks to both the drivers themselves and other road users. While these weights are marketed for innocuous purposes, they are intended to enable drivers to remove their hands from the wheel while the car operates autonomously. Tesla’s Autopilot features have proven to be imperfect and have been involved in fatal accidents. Although it is understandable that some drivers may misconstrue Tesla’s statements regarding autonomous driving capabilities, the use of these weights remains highly dangerous. Online marketplaces, like Amazon, are taking action to remove listings that promote misleading behavior. However, it is crucial for drivers to prioritize safety and adhere to the recommended guidelines and regulations surrounding autonomous driving technology. The responsibility lies with individuals to use such advanced features responsibly and be mindful of the potential risks associated with misusing or circumventing safety measures in their vehicles.