CONSUMERS UNION RECOMMENDS TESLA SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS
Consumers Union has called on Tesla to improve the safety of its “Autopilot” driver-assist system and to publicly release the detailed data behind the company’s safety claims. Tesla has acknowledged that this technology was engaged at the time of the spring 2018 fatal self-driving car crash in California of a Tesla “X” model killing its driver.
Consumer Reports experts claim that Tesla’s system of monitoring whether a driver’s hands are on the wheel fails to effectively address the safety risks of foreseeable uses of the system. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are both investigating the March 23 crash.
Consumer Union Spokesman Demands Safety Improvement
A Consumers Union spokesman has been quoted as saying “After another tragedy involving Autopilot, Tesla should commit to put safety first—and to stop using consumers as beta testers for unproven technology. Tesla should improve the safety of Autopilot without delay.”
Consistent with criticisms of Tesla voiced by others in the auto safety arena, the CU spokesman also said that instead of blaming the victim, Tesla should fix Autopilot’s design and be transparent about their safety claims. Specifically, he called for the company to publicly provide detailed data to demonstrate conditions for which the Tesla Autopilot system can safely operate.
On the basis of CR’s research and testing of early automated driving technologies, Consumer Reports and Consumers Union have previously called for all automakers to make consumers aware of the technology limitations of so-called autonomous driving systems.
National Transportation Safety Board Pushes the NHTSA to Set Safeguards
In September 2017 the NTSB recommended that NHTSA require safeguards in vehicles with automated driving technologies. The NTSB’s recommendations included issuance of mandatory performance standards for these systems and better collection of crash data. The NTSB also recommended that manufacturers limit (and NHTSA should verify that they have limited) the use of automated driving systems to appropriate circumstances and develop systems to more effectively sense a human driver’s level of engagement and alert the driver when automated driving systems are in use and the driver is inattentive.