A Utah driver wearing a VR headset riles up the Internet

A video that went viral over the weekend was filmed in Lehi. Utah drivers were not happy.

(@supercar_ron via Instagram) An Instagram post shows a man wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset while in the drivers seat of a Tesla Cybertruck on a highway in Lehi.

It took less than a day after the release of Apple’s Vision Pro, a virtual reality headset and camera, for people online to demonstrate its possibilities and its potential risks — with a Utah-made viral video posted to Instagram Saturday making drivers especially nervous.

“That type of behavior is reckless and will seriously get someone killed one of these days,” one Reddit user commented in a Salt Lake City subreddit post — one of the more polite comments on the post.

The video appears to show a man driving a Tesla Cybertruck while wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset. The driver’s hands are not on the wheel, nor are his eyes on the road. Instead, he seems focused on whatever is being displayed on the headset and his hands are moving as if he is playing a game or typing on the headset somehow. Internet sleuths were quick to recognize the road as Timponogos Highway in Lehi, near the Outlets at Traverse Mountain.

The video was a joke, the driver, Tace Anderson, 24, said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune and in a comment on Instagram. Anderson is a content creator living in Utah County, and runs the Instagram account behind the viral video. The Instagram page and accompanying YouTube channel are platforms for Anderson and his colleagues’ “supercar” collection.

Anderson told The Tribune that the headset was not displaying anything except the road, and the hand gestures were a “gimmick.” Anderson steered the Cybertruck with his knees for the roughly 15 seconds it took to catch him on camera, he said.

“I was probably less distracted than the average person, looking at their phone,” Anderson said. “My eyes were on the road.”

Joke or not, it might not have been legal. A spokesperson for the Utah Highway Patrol said while he could not confirm the “validity” of the video, it is “definitely concerning.”

“If it were real, the driver could definitely be stopped for multiple violations,” UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden told The Tribune via text, including driving with a wireless communication device and driving with a video monitor.

Roden said the driver was likely in Lehi Police’s jurisdiction. Lehi PD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Utahns were not the only ones concerned. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttegieg shared the video on X, formerly Twitter, with the reminder that “ALL advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times.”

Anderson said he is not concerned with the backlash — in fact, he’s loving it.

While the video is make to look like it was filmed by another driver capturing something novel on camera, it was all staged. Anderson’s friend filmed it. The whole point was to go viral, Anderson said, and draw more attention to their YouTube channel. Anger is just “fuel to the fire.”

“It’s on every corner of the internet,” Anderson said.

Apple released its Vision Pro headset Friday, the same day Anderson and his friends arrived back to Utah in their new Cybertruck. Apple’s product support page explicitly says that the device should never be used “while operating a moving vehicle, bicycle, heavy machinery, or in any other situations requiring attention to safety.” It also warns against using the headset near roads or “areas where moving objects present a collision risk.”

But the temptation to combine the “two hottest pieces of tech” in one video was too strong, Anderson said. The Cybertruck had barely reached Utah pavement before it “broke the internet.”

Anderson isn’t the only one to pull this “skit.” A 21-year-old Tesla driver in California posted a video that appears to show him getting pulled over for driving while wearing his Apple Vision Pro headset.

The California driver told the website Gizmodo his video also was staged — he wasn’t arrested, and he only drove with the headset on for “30-40 seconds.” Tesla drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the wheel, even while their cars are in autopilot, according to the company’s website.

Shannon Sollitt is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.