Don't use Tesla's Autopilot system in Malaysia

Derryn Wong

Singaporean Tesla drivers take note: It’s against the law to use Autopilot on the road in Malaysia

SINGAPORE – Malaysian police have reportedly begun an investigation involving a Singaporean driver using Tesla’s driving assist system, Autopilot, on the roads in Malaysia according to a report by Malaysian news outlet The Vibes.

The case is sparked by a video posted to TikTok by user ‘@SGpikarchu’, showing a Tesla Model 3 being driven from Singapore towards KL and beyond. The driver is also shown in the video with his hands off the wheel when Autopilot is engaged.

Autopilot is an assist system that comes standard in all Teslas

Under Malaysian law, Tesla’s Autopilot system is not allowed to be used on the road in the country because of a traffic rule that states a driver is prohibited from “being in a position where they do not have appropriate control over a vehicle.” Those who violate the rule will face a fine of up to RM2,000 or six months in prison.

This BMW has Tesla beat when it comes to driving fun

According to a quote, Mr Bakri Zainal Abidin, deputy director of the Bukit Aman traffic investigation and enforcement department, said: “Although there is currently no law (in Malaysia) that prohibits self-assisted driving, the system not only cannot keep the driver’s attention, but also cannot detect whether there is a driver in the car; drivers may see less road conditions, but pay more attention to the system in question.”

It’s unclear whether these rules also apply to other driver assist systems that help a driver steer and keep the distance/speed, and they can be found as part of increasingly common active safety suites on modern cars.

But the case does highlight a big complaint we have about Tesla’s system: The fact that its name is misleading and it is a Level 2 driving assist system, not a full self-driving system. The Autopilot name implies a self-driving car, and as a result people keep killing themselves in Teslas while watching movies from the back seat, for instance, or pretending it’s some sort of robot chauffeur.

Autopilot is also currently under investigation for repeatedly crashing into emergency vehicles. Our take? Don’t use it at all for now.

It also highlights the chief conundrum for autonomous vehicles: The fact that the technology is capable of it already, but legal quibbles form a big barrier to self-driving vehicles because of the question of liability.


autopilot crime electric EV law malaysia tesla

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

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