Tesla Autopilot and Speeding Explained

Tesla Autopilot and Speeding Explained

With the Tesla Autopilot now available in many markets worldwide, you might be wondering how the car handles speeding. Since you will be trusting the vehicle to keep you safely within the speed limit, this is an important topic to consider. It is essential to know how Autopilot keeps you within the legally posted limits. 

If caught speeding while Autopilot is engaged, the driver will still be responsible for the violation. Autopilot is designed to go the speed limit within the jurisdiction that you are currently driving, however it allows the driver to manually increase the speed.

It is important to understand exactly how Autopilot works in terms of keeping you and your Tesla at a safe speed. There are various control features that drivers can utilize to better make use of the system. Continue reading to learn how Autopilot handles issues such as speeding. 

How Fast Can Tesla Autopilot Go?

Because there are so many different speed limits depending on the jurisdiction where someone is driving, it has been difficult for Tesla to pinpoint a maximum speed at which it will go on Autopilot. 

Currently, the maximum speed that a Tesla built for the North American market will go is 90 miles per hour. Tesla last changed this in 2017. Since every state is free to set their maximum speed limit, that seems like a fair number given that the highest known speed limit is 80 miles per hour.

Of course, drivers in Montana are probably a bit disappointed on those stretch of highways where there is no posted speed limit, but Tesla designers feel that 90 mph is fast enough. Keep in mind that the maximum speed for Autopilot can change at any time via a software update that Tesla regularly pushes through to its system.

Why is There a Maximum Speed for Tesla Autopilot?

Given the fact that combustible gas vehicles have long been able to travel at a speed to far exceed the posted speed limit, you might be wondering why Tesla has set a maximum for its cars. To begin, keep in mind that there is a difference between driving a Tesla in regular mode versus using the Autopilot. 

Driving Without Autopilot

There is no maximum speed on the Tesla when you are driving without the assistance of Autopilot. You are only limited by the maximum speed at which your specific model of Tesla can handle. This will also depend on how many external features you are using, such as air conditioning and other features that tend to drain the battery.

There are many reasons why you might need to temporarily drive faster than the posted speed limit. Some of those include: 

  • A medical emergency 
  • To pass another vehicle on the highway  
  • In extreme cases where you feel your life is in danger

Aside from these reasons, you will want to keep your Tesla within the posted speed limit range. 

Driving with Autopilot Engaged

When you have Autopilot engaged, you will not be able to exceed the speed limit that Tesla has programmed into its software. That is currently set at 90 miles per hour. To understand the rationale behind this, one must consider that Autopilot is designed to be used for highway driving. 

When using Autopilot, the vehicle needs time to navigate:

  • Upcoming turns
  • Curvatures in the road
  • Approaching interchanges
  • Hazards on the road
  • Off-ramps
  • On-ramps

These are just a few of the things that the Autopilot system must navigate to do its job effectively. Since it cannot depend on you to make the corrections, it will do them for you. At the same time, the car needs to be traveling at a reasonable rate of speed in order to do so.

This is why Tesla has set a maximum speed above which you are unable to use Autopilot. While you can manually increase the vehicle speed while using Autopilot, the system will never allow you to go more than five miles over the speed limit while it is engaged. 

Can You Set the Speed Limit in Your Tesla?

If you would rather not have Tesla dictate the speed limit in your car or SUV, you can change it yourself. Keep in mind that you will not be able to override the maximum speed that the vehicle can travel when Autopilot is engaged.

If you are traveling on a certain highway where you have a certain speed that you are comfortable driving at and no more, this can be a handy feature to engage. It will ensure that your Tesla does not go too fast without your confirmation. 

To set this feature, you will need to follow these steps:

  • Make sure your Tesla is safely in the Park position. 
  • From your touchscreen, hit ‘Control’ and then go to ‘Safety and Security’. Press the Speed Limit mode button to get you where you need to be. 
  • You will then be able to set the maximum speed that the vehicle can drive. This will limit your Tesla to drive below the speed that you input. 
  • Before the new speed limit takes effect, you must first touch the ‘enable’ button. 
  • If you wish to disable the Speed Limit mode in Autopilot, you will first be required to enter your four-digit PIN code. 

This is yet another way that Tesla has designed the Autopilot system to be intuitive and to operate within the law. Keep in mind that there are restrictions in place and that a licensed driver must always be in control of the vehicle, even when Autopilot is engaged. 

Can You Engage Autopilot When Going Over the Speed Limit?

If you are fond of the saying that you can’t have it both ways, then you will understand why you cannot engage Autopilot if you are simultaneously driving over the speed limit. The system will not allow you to do that. You will either need to slow down first or you will need to go without Autopilot. 

Many drivers have reported driving down the highway and finding that Autopilot is unavailable to them. This is likely because the car is traveling too fast. Once you slow down to the posted speed limit and below 90 mph, the option to engage Autopilot should once again become available to you. 

How Does Autopilot Know What the Posted Speed Limit Is?

Technology can do some amazing things, but you might be wondering how in the world your Tesla can know what the posted speed limit is. This is particularly important in areas where speed limits seem to change with every new intersection.

The answer lies with camera recognition. The Tesla Autopilot has eight different cameras monitoring every angle possible while you are driving. One of the things that those cameras will constantly be on the lookout for is speed limit signs. When it spots ones, the system will automatically adjust its speed accordingly. 

Who is Responsible for a Speeding Tickets When Autopilot is Engaged?

The driver is always responsible for a speeding ticket, regardless of whether Autopilot was engaged or not. Even when you are using Autopilot, it is important to monitor the speed limit. There are times when the speed limit will change, and the system simply does not pick up on it. In that case, you will need to slow the vehicle down manually. 

In other words, drivers must always stay in control. A speeding ticket will be your responsibility. This is also why Autopilot is not often used in urban settings where speed limits tend to change rapidly. There are simply too many variables involved, many of which could result in you getting an expensive ticket before you arrive at your destination. 


With Tesla Autopilot engaged, the system is designed not to let you speed. However, it is still important to always monitor the speed limit in order to ensure that you are operating the vehicle in a way that abides by local regulations. With Autopilot engaged, the speed that your Tesla travels at will be capped. 

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The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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