Bad Tesla Autopilot drivers

JeffC

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I am a decades long supporter of EVs in general and Tesla in particular. I have a Tesla Model 3 Performance and am very certain it's the best sedan ever built in almost every way. (I am also a very long time "car nut" and know quite a bit about cars and driving.) I have, use and like Enhanced Autopilot and am toying with the idea of upgrading to Full Self Driving. (I am somewhat of an full autonomy skeptic, thinking there is a possibility that it may be impossible to the law of physics known as entropy (which has significant implications/causes limitations in information theory). Nonetheless the prospect of less manual intervention on long road trips is somewhat appealing. But this thread is not about FSD specifically.)

Driving here in Silicon Valley lately, I'm noticing many Tesla drivers, probably using Autopilot, seemingly oblivious to the traffic problems they're creating around them. Mostly they seem to be using Autopilot in middle lanes on the highway with their speed set at or near the speed limit. Normally in very light traffic this would be sort of ok, though it's so slow relative to the speed people are actually driving, that they really should be in the slow lane if they want to drive that slowly.

The problem is that they are so far under the speed of the surrounding traffic that they are creating problems for people merging, and basically anyone behind them. They are causing traffic to need to flow around them; they are an obstacle to be avoided, like a stream flowing over or around rocks.

This is unsafe since it causes unnecessary lane changes, and it disrupts the natural traffic flow. Worst case it could cause collisions or even deaths in other vehicles.

Thinking about it, I've done this myself, but it's far more obvious to other drivers not using autopilot and driving somewhat faster than the speed limit, as usually happens here in the U.S., where our speed limits are in some cases artificially low and not supported by scientific traffic studies. (Here I refer to highway driving only. For city street driving, I always follow the speed limits due to cross traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists, children, pets, etc.)

While I fully support Tesla and Autopilot, Autopilot is a tool and needs to be used properly.

Safety and the efficient flow of traffic will be greatly facilitated if Tesla drivers, and really drivers of any car with Driver Assistance features like Autopilot (and there are many roughly similar systems from virtually every car maker, though Tesla's is almost certainly the best) will remember to keep to the slower lanes if they want to drive slower than the surrounding traffic, OR set Autopilot speed to be similar to the rest of the cars around them.

This is not intended to be a rant as much as an observation about how we can be better, more courteous, and safer drivers when using these tools.

Please don't flame me. I intend this in the best possible way.

(For background, there are an amazing number of Teslas here in Silicon Valley. Almost a dozen of our neighbors on our small street now have Teslas; mostly Model 3s, but some Model Ys arriving, and also Model S. I could walk to Tesla headquarters. I used to charge at the Tesla Factory in Fremont pretty often.)
 
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Ed Woodrick

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I suspect that you are noticing the problem only because you are driving a Tesla. If you would look closer, I suspect that you will find that it is a variety of cars that are going slow.
 
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MelindaV

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personally, I don't buy the "it is unsafe to go near the speed limit" excuse for speeding. The posted speed limit is the legal TOP speed. If there is a collision, and one person was going the speed limit and someone hit them going 30 over, it is not going to be the one following the law that would be at fault.
 

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I'm uncertain how the use of autopilot relates to the issues you report. Some drivers drive more slowly than others, with or without AP. When using our cars on NOA, they actually encourage us to leave the passing lane when moving more slowly than the traffic around them. Also, when using the lane change feature of FSD or EAP, my car won't allow me to lane change precipitously, cutting off or side-swiping others. In these ways, I consider using to AP functions of our cars to be MUCH safer than vehicles without these features.

Now, if your talking about teaching driving courtesy to drivers of all makes, that's a discussion that's much needed.
 

JeffC

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I suspect that you are noticing the problem only because you are driving a Tesla. If you would look closer, I suspect that you will find that it is a variety of cars that are going slow.
We have 2 EVs and once ICE car. I'm seeing it when I'm driving all of them.
 

JeffC

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I don't have a problem with those in the middle lane, it is the left lane idiots that irk me! FWIW, I typically drive 5 to 9 over the limit.
Left lane bandits are definitely one my my pet peeves too, but the slow middle lane drivers are also a problem. And they're almost all Teslas around here that are doing it.

P.S. In some countries it's illegal to drive in the passing lane except when passing, and people can and do lose their driving licenses if they do it.
 

JeffC

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I'm uncertain how the use of autopilot relates to the issues you report. Some drivers drive more slowly than others, with or without AP. When using our cars on NOA, they actually encourage us to leave the passing lane when moving more slowly than the traffic around them. Also, when using the lane change feature of FSD or EAP, my car won't allow me to lane change precipitously, cutting off or side-swiping others. In these ways, I consider using to AP functions of our cars to be MUCH safer than vehicles without these features.

Now, if your talking about teaching driving courtesy to drivers of all makes, that's a discussion that's much needed.
Tesla drivers are driving too slowly and almost certainly while on Autopilot, relative to the speed of the cars around them. I've done it myself, due to overreliance on Autopilot AND not paying enough attention to the (speed of the) traffic around me.

It absolutely seems Autopilot related, and it's almost entirely Teslas doing it.
 
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JeffC

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personally, I don't buy the "it is unsafe to go near the speed limit" excuse for speeding. The posted speed limit is the legal TOP speed. If there is a collision, and one person was going the speed limit and someone hit them going 30 over, it is not going to be the one following the law that would be at fault.
I agree with all of your points, nonetheless, driving at a significantly different speed from the other cars around (including 5 to 10 MPH slower) causes problems as described.

P.S. The fewest collisions are likely to occur when more cars are driving approximately the same speed. Even if that speed is slightly above the speed limit, it's safer in that sense.
 
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FRC

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I still don't understand the premise that drivers on autopilot drive slower than others. Generally, when I engage TACC, I set the speed about 5 mph faster than the car in front of me and the car maintains the speed of that car and the interval I've requested. What causes an autopilot driver to drive too slowly; other than the desire to drive more slowly?
 
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JeffC

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I still don't understand the premise that drivers on autopilot drive slower than others. Generally, when I engage TACC, I set the speed about 5 mph faster than the car in front of me and the car maintains the speed of that car and the interval I've requested. What causes an autopilot driver to drive too slowly; other than the desire to drive more slowly?
Agree with your TACC usage strategy, and I tend to do the same thing.

The problem seems worse when traffic is medium light. There are few enough cars to "latch onto" a car in front (since there are fewer around), and the Tesla drivers seem to be setting their TACC to at or near the speed limit. Unfortunately that's too slow compared to the real-world speed of the cars around them, especially when traffic is relatively light, resulting in the problems described.
 

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I don't think the problem is Autopilot or Teslas; It's people using both of those as a tool to tune out completely from their driving and text, play with social media, or even watch TV shows. That's why they don't have any clue of what traffic is doing around them.

Also, it looks like you've all stumbled onto one of the oldest arguments on Youtube: Split right down the middle of people who believe it's dangerous to go slow in the left lane, and people who believe going the speed limit in the left lane is safer, and they have a right to slow dangerous traffic down. (By the way, most highway patrols agree with the first one)
 

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Personally, I’ve never seen any such trend of slow Tesla drivers, but I wonder if the fact that you have to pay $10k to get auto lane change contributes to people camping out in a lane on AP. I know that if I had to disengage AP every time I wanted to change lanes, I probably wouldn’t use AP much at all, but if I did use it, I’d probably learn to chill and camp in a slow lane.
 

JeffC

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I don't think the problem is Autopilot or Teslas; It's people using both of those as a tool to tune out completely from their driving and text, play with social media, or even watch TV shows. That's why they don't have any clue of what traffic is doing around them.

Also, it looks like you've all stumbled onto one of the oldest arguments on Youtube: Split right down the middle of people who believe it's dangerous to go slow in the left lane, and people who believe going the speed limit in the left lane is safer, and they have a right to slow dangerous traffic down. (By the way, most highway patrols agree with the first one)
FWIW I'm not aware of that debate, but a (the most) basic rule of road safety is to drive at a speed that's safe for the local conditions. In some states this is called "the basic speed rule."

If most of the cars on a highway were driving 80 MPH, it would be unsafe to drive at 50 MPH, and vice versa. And yes, state troopers / highway patrol definitely take this into consideration very strongly.

It is definitely not safe to drive the speed limit in the passing lane if most of the other cars in or near that lane are driving significantly faster. Doing so would violate the basic speed rule.


I agree the problem could be unrelated to Teslas, but I've been seeing a lot of Teslas doing this lately. They may not be especially distracted; they may simply be overrelying on Autopilot and not paying attention to the traffic around them enough.

I hypothesize that it's related to Autopilot because I've found myself doing exactly the same thing when using Autopilot, AND because I've seen so many Teslas doing it lately.
 
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JeffC

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Personally, I’ve never seen any such trend of slow Tesla drivers, but I wonder if the fact that you have to pay $10k to get auto lane change contributes to people camping out in a lane on AP. I know that if I had to disengage AP every time I wanted to change lanes, I probably wouldn’t use AP much at all, but if I did use it, I’d probably learn to chill and camp in a slow lane.
TBH I've kind of lost track of all the combinations and permutations of the Tesla driver assistance features which have changed over time, but with my EAP, I can use the turn signal to change lanes semi-automatically, or I can set auto lane change in Navigate on Autopilot.

NOA was included in EAP, and is part of FSD, but is not part of basic autopilot, so I think you're right that it would cost $10k to get auto-lane change, for cars with basic Autopilot.

But does it cost $10k to get the semi-automated lane changes upon turn signal actuation with basic Autopilot? If not, then there's not much excuse for people not getting into slower lanes when they want to drive slower than other cars. (I know; too much negation to parse in that last sentence.)

And yes, if one wanted to drive slower, one should definitely do it in the slower lanes. I think most traffic laws essentially require this.
 
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Long Ranger

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But does it cost $10k to get the semi-automated lane changes upon turn signal actuation with basic Autopilot?
Yep, you have to buy the full FSD package for $10k (or subscribe at $199/mo) to get auto lane change upon turn signal. Seems crazy to me that there’s no cheaper option like EAP to get that feature. On basic AP, I understand you have to re-engage AP and hear the AP disengage/engage tones on every lane change.
 

JeffC

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Yep, you have to buy the full FSD package for $10k (or subscribe at $199/mo) to get auto lane change upon turn signal. Seems crazy to me that there’s no cheaper option like EAP to get that feature. On basic AP, I understand you have to re-engage AP and hear the AP disengage/engage tones on every lane change.
Hmm, that would definitely be annoying.

EAP is sort of a nice sweet spot for features, but I can sort of see why they don't want to offer it since in principle it's arguably too similar to FSD.

Basically EAP has all the useful stuff they could actually do. FSD may never exist, IMO, but the EAP like things it does now are useful. I'm glad I got EAP. I'm still undecided about FSD.
 
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Let me chime in with the way I've experienced this. Firstly, I have FSD/NOA, and I let the car do most of the lane changes it wants. My personal driving policy is: speed limit + 2 mph. (Don't @ me, it's a personal choice.) On a 2 lane divided highway (fast lane, slow lane), it works as you'd expect: passing lane to pass, otherwise in the slow lane. (This is a setting: Controls > Autopilot > CUSTOMIZE NAVIGATE ON AUTOPILOT > EXIT PASSING LANE). However, with 3 lanes, it tends to camp in the middle lane when it shouldn't. It exits the fast lane appropriately, but also tends to merge out of the slow lane (either to pass, or to minimize conflict with traffic from on-ramps & off-ramps). But then it just stays there. If there were 6 lanes, I think it would ultimately end up in the lane next to the fast lane, regardless of the speed of surrounding traffic. For the most part, my driver-requested lane changes are mainly to merge right, as appropriate for my speed relative to surrounding traffic.
 

JeffC

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Let me chime in with the way I've experienced this. Firstly, I have FSD/NOA, and I let the car do most of the lane changes it wants. My personal driving policy is: speed limit + 2 mph. (Don't @ me, it's a personal choice.) On a 2 lane divided highway (fast lane, slow lane), it works as you'd expect: passing lane to pass, otherwise in the slow lane. (This is a setting: Controls > Autopilot > CUSTOMIZE NAVIGATE ON AUTOPILOT > EXIT PASSING LANE). However, with 3 lanes, it tends to camp in the middle lane when it shouldn't. It exits the fast lane appropriately, but also tends to merge out of the slow lane (either to pass, or to minimize conflict with traffic from on-ramps & off-ramps). But then it just stays there. If there were 6 lanes, I think it would ultimately end up in the lane next to the fast lane, regardless of the speed of surrounding traffic. For the most part, my driver-requested lane changes are mainly to merge right, as appropriate for my speed relative to surrounding traffic.
For a 3 lane highway, that sounds generally reasonable: avoid the passing lane and avoid the merging lane.

However it's still a problem if the resulting Autopilot speed in the middle lane is significantly slower than the other traffic in that lane. In that case it should go into the slow lane.

What you're describing could be what I'm seeing, and could happen either with EAP or FSD, which have NOA.

I'm absolutely, 100% ok with your driving near the speed limit, and thanks for doing it in the slow(er) lane(s) if that fits the prevailing traffic speeds better.

Again, the key principle is to keep traffic flowing smoothly in each lane and driving not too much faster or slower than the surrounding vehicles. I assume everyone knows this, but perhaps it's worth saying if it makes the roads safer and more harmonious.
 
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DocScott

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On a 3-lane (or more) highway I drive differently in a Tesla with AP than I do in an ICE car without.

In an ICE car without AP, I like to drive in the middle lane, because the merge lane is annoying. Because the middle lane generally moves a bit faster than the speed limit, I drive a bit faster than the speed limit (maybe 5-10 mph faster).

But with TACC, I like to drive just a bit above the speed limit. I like the better efficiency than driving faster...I've commented elsewhere on this forum that I do achieve the rated range in summer, and that's part of the reason why. It's also nice knowing I'm not at risk of tickets.

But to do that, it means I've had to re-train myself to drive in the merge lane! TACC has no problem with dealing with the modest speed adjustments needed as people ahead of me merge on and off. And travelling at the speed limit + 2 mph is acceptable in that lane.

So I agree with @JeffC. I think a lot of Tesla drivers have made the first part of my shift in driving strategy, using a bit slower speed than they would in a car without AP, but haven't figured out that they can do so in the merging lane.
 
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