In a statement released on Thursday, Ralph Nader called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take action against Tesla for its “dangerous and irresponsible” Full Self-Driving mode.
With his 1965 book Unsafe At Any Speed, Nader established himself as a leading consumer rights activist. The U.S. government was motivated to establish federal regulatory agencies like NHTSA as a result of this indictment of the lawless American auto industry. Subsequently, Nader established the Center for Auto Safety to advocate for stricter regulations and more robust vehicle safety features. To read Nader’s full statement, visit his website.
One of the most risky and irresponsible moves by an automaker in decades is Tesla’s massive rollout of so-called Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology. This feature has no place in Tesla vehicles and the company should have known better than to include it. A recent study found that every eight minutes, Tesla owners experience a malfunction with their vehicles. In light of the rising number of fatalities and injuries caused by crashes involving Tesla vehicles equipped with this software, I am urging federal regulators to take immediate action. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is empowered to take immediate action to avert such catastrophes. The NHTSA has spent years looking into Tesla and its Full Self-Driving technology. The FSD technology must be removed from all Teslas, and the NHTSA must use its safety recall authority to make this happen. The United States should not let this faulty software, about which Tesla warns that it might do the “wrong thing at the worst time,” loose on the streets where schoolchildren travel. We must unite to send a strong message to the casualty-minded regulators that the American people will not stand for being used as guinea pigs by a prominent company and its celebrity CEO. Manslaughter laws apply to everyone equally.
At least 11 accidents have occurred where a vehicle with FSD activated has crashed into stationary vehicles at first responder scenes, and Nader should be relieved to know that NHTSA is already investigating the automaker. At least one person was killed and 17 people were injured as a result of these accidents. The fact that the car can be programmed to disobey regulations and run stop signs isn’t helping matters.
NHTSA has advanced its probe to the “Engineering Analysis” stage, the last one before a recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also compiled a list of Special Crash Investigations related to such systems. A report from The Cutting Edge:
As of the 26th of July, the agency’s SCI list included 48 crashes involving [Tesla] vehicles, 39 of which involved Tesla vehicles operating in Autopilot mode. There were a total of nineteen fatalities in those Tesla accidents, including the drivers and passengers as well as pedestrians, other motorists, and motorcyclists.
However, we have seen time and time again that NHTSA can be frustratingly slow to act, even when accidents (and deaths) are piling up. Nader has demanded that Teslas with this software be recalled immediately. Owners invest a paltry $12,000. in beta testing the fabled “Full Self Driving” feature for the sake of their cherished company. Those of us who don’t own Teslas but still use the roads every day are essentially being used as guinea pigs for a company whose stock is worth $858.58 per share as of this writing. Owners of Teslas voluntarily put their lives in the hands of a computer that has only been partially programmed, but the rest of us did not.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Tesla for its misleading marketing of its Level 2 driver-assist system as “Full Self Driving.” California, the largest EV market in the U.S., has filed a complaint against Tesla, and a court in Germany has ruled that the company sold its customers a bill of false goods. The state alleges that Tesla’s website contained “false and misleading statements,” including that all of its vehicles came standard with advanced driver assistance features.
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