Ralph Nader, a former presidential candidate and nationally recognized consumer protection advocate, called on federal regulators to recall Tesla’s “full self-driving” (FSD) driver-assistance feature, calling its deployment “a One of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by car”. company over the decades. ,
Nadar, who first came to prominence in 1965 with the publication of the best-selling book unsafe at any speedA highly influential critic of the US auto industry said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should use its recall authority to order that Tesla’s FSD technology be removed from every vehicle.
“I am calling on federal regulators to take immediate action to prevent deaths and injuries from accidents killing Tesla with this technology,” Nader said in a statement issued by the Center for Auto Safety.
Nader’s comments are the latest in a growing chorus of voices calling for the government to make a decision on Tesla’s FSD, which critics say pushes the limits of what should be available to drivers. NHTSA is currently investigating 16 accidents in which Tesla vehicle owners using Autopilot crashed into stationary emergency vehicles, resulting in 15 injuries and one death. Most of these incidents occurred after dark, with software ignoring visual control measures, including warning lights, flares, cones and an illuminated arrow board. The probe was recently upgraded to an “engineering analysis,” the second and final stage of the investigation before a possible recall.
In his statement, Nader noted that Tesla recently reported that more than 100,000 vehicle owners are currently beta testing FSDs on public roads. (The company has about 3 million vehicles on the road globally.)
Tesla vehicles today come standard with a driver-assistance feature called Autopilot. For an additional $12,000, owners can purchase the FSD option, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly promised will one day provide fully autonomous capability. But to date, FSD remains a “Level 2” advanced driver-assistance system, which means the driver must be fully engaged in operating the vehicle while in motion.
In addition to emergency vehicle accidents, NHTSA has also compiled a list of Special Accident Investigations (SCIs) in which the agency collects data beyond what local authorities and insurance companies typically collect at the scene. The agency also investigates crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot and Automatic Driving System.
As of July 26, the agency’s SCI list has 48 accidents, 39 of which involve Tesla vehicles using Autopilot. Nineteen people were killed in those Tesla crashes, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers and motorcyclists.
Last week, California’s DMV accused Tesla of falsely advertising its Autopilot and FSD features, alleging that the company made “untrue or misleading” claims about the autonomous driving capabilities of its vehicles. The DMV’s action could result in the suspension of Tesla’s license to produce and sell cars in California, but the agency may not go that far.
Tesla has faced similar complaints before. In 2016, the German government asked the company to stop using the term “autopilot”, as it could suggest that its vehicles are fully autonomous. Last year, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the way Tesla advertises its Autopilot and FSD systems for the automaker. The claim is that it “exaggerates the capabilities of its vehicles, which “could pose a danger to motorists and other road users.”
Now, Nadar is lending his expertise and reputation to the fight. Consumer protection advocate said NHTSA must act before anyone else is killed.
“This country should not allow this faulty software, which Tesla itself warns can happen on the same streets where kids go to school,” he said. “Together we need to send an urgent message to casualty-minded regulators that Americans should not be the test dummy for a powerful, high-profile corporation and its celebrity CEO. No one is above the rules of murder.”