Reckless backseat Tesla driver speaks out after arrest

Bay Area

VIDEO: Param Sharma

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) — “The way the car is driving is very safe.”

Param Sharma, the Bay Area Tesla car owner who was recently arrested after going viral for sitting in the back of his Tesla with no one driving, is speaking out after his arrest.

On Tuesday, CHP said the 25-year-old was arrested without incident and booked into the Santa Rita Jail on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying Peace Officers.

“I had to spend time in jail. They were like, why are you in jail? I was just sitting in the wrong seat of the car and then spent the night in jail,” Sharma said. “I got out the next morning and went home in a self-driving car.”

Sharma said the car was on full-self driving mode while he was cruising through the Bay during rush hour traffic. And since there was so much traffic ahead of him, he said the Tesla was following the car in front of him.

Mugshot of Param Sharma, courtesy Santa Rita Jail

The Tesla owner said what he did shouldn’t be considered illegal.

“That’s the thing. I don’t think that should be illegal because the way the car is driving is very safe,” he said. “So as long as the car is safely operating, it doesn’t matter what seat you’re sitting in.”

But Nick Josefowitz, chief policy officer at SPUR, doesn’t agree that it was safe.

“Mr. Sharma is absolutely endangering himself and everybody around him. It is it’s unconscionable what he’s doing,” Josefowitz said. “Carmakers should not allow that cars to be driven from the back seat. They should require people to be attentive and monitor the vehicle at all times.”

And while some are iffy of Tesla’s Autopilot feature, Sharma said he trusts his car on Autopilot more than others on the road.

“I feel safer in the back seat than I do in the driver’s seat, and I feel safer with my car on autopilot,” he said. “I trust my car autopilot more than I trust everyone on the road.”

Video of a person resembling Sharma was taken showing the same reckless behavior and Sharma was also cited on April 27 for similar behavior, according to the CHP.

Sharma said he started in 2018 in his model X with the windows tinted. He added he’s “been doing this” for two years and no one ever knew.

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