Ralph Nader, a former presidential candidate and nationally recognized consumer protection advocate, called on federal regulators to review the “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) driver assistance feature. He called its implementation “one of the most dangerous and irresponsible acts by a car company in decades.”
Nader, who first rose to fame for the publication of the 1965 bestseller Unsafe at Any Speed, made a highly influential critique of the American auto industry. This time he said that 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 call on federal regulators to act immediately to prevent the increase in fatalities and injuries from accidents resulting in killing of Teslas with this technology,” Nader said in a statement released by the Center for Auto Safety.
According to The Verge, these are Nader’s latest comments in a “chorus” calling for the government to make a decision on Tesla’s FSD. According to critics the government is pushing the limits of what should be available to drivers.
NHTSA is currently investigating 16 accidents in which the owner of a Tesla vehicle on Autopilot crashed into a stationary emergency vehicle. This accident resulted in 15 injuries and one death.
Most of these incidents occurred after dark, with the software ignoring scene control measures including warning lights, beacons, cones, and dartboards flashing. The investigation was recently upgraded to “Engineering Analysis,” which is the second and final phase 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 the FSD on public roads. Tesla alone has about 3 million vehicles on the road globally.
Current Tesla vehicles come as standard with a driver-assist feature called Autopilot. For an additional $12,000, owners can purchase the FSD option, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly promised to one day deliver fully autonomous capabilities.
But to this day, the FSD remains an advanced “Level 2” driver assistance system, meaning the driver must remain fully engaged in the operation of the vehicle while it is in motion.
In addition to emergency vehicle accidents, NHTSA has also compiled a Special Accident Investigations (SCI) list where the agency collects data beyond what is normally collected by local authorities and insurance companies at the scene.
The agency also examines accidents involving advanced driver assistance systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, and automated driving systems.
As of July 26, there were 48 accidents on the SCI list, 39 of which involved Tesla vehicles on Autopilot. Nineteen people, including the driver, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers and motorcyclists, died in the Tesla crash.
Last week, the California DMV accused Tesla of falsely advertising its Autopilot and FSD features, as well as alleging that the company made “untrue or misleading” claims about its vehicles’ autonomous driving capabilities.
The DMV’s action could result in the suspension of Tesla’s license to manufacture and sell cars in California, but the agency may not go that far.
Tesla has faced similar complaints in the past. In 2016, the German government asked the company to stop using the term “Autopilot” over concerns that it could indicate that its vehicles were fully autonomous.
Last year, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the way Tesla advertises its Autopilot and FSD systems, claiming that the automaker is “overstating the capabilities of its vehicles,” which could “pose a threat to motorists and users alike.” another way.”
Now, Nader lends his skills and reputation to fighting. Consumer protection advocates say NHTSA must act before someone else is killed.
“This country should not allow this malfunctioning software that Tesla himself warned could do the ‘wrong thing at the worst time’ on the same streets where children walk to school,” he said.
“Together we need to send an urgent message to victim-minded regulators that Americans must not become experimental puppets for powerful and famous companies and their celebrity CEOs. No one is above the homicide law,” Nader said.