By on January 8, 2021


Tesla vehicles that drive themselves and those that continue unintentionally are not the same, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


In a ruling sure to satisfy Teslaphiles and Muskovites, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) concluded today that after reviewing the data, ODI has no evidence that supports opening a defect investigation into sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in Teslas. In every instance in which data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that crashes in the complaints have been caused by pedal misapplication. There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the incidents. There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to pedal misapplication. The theory of a potential electronic cause of SUA is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data. 

On December 19, 2019, NHTSA received a petition requesting that the agency recall all Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles produced from 2013 to the present due to SUA. In this petition, 232 complaints were brought to NHTSA’s attention, including 203 crashes. On January 13, 2020, NHTSA’s ODI opened Defect Petition DP20-001 to evaluate the request. ODI’s evaluation included reviews of all complaints and supporting information, as well as 14 additional complaints to NHTSA related to SUA allegations not previously submitted. The review included crash data (EDR, Tesla log data, video data) the agency acquired as part of the evaluation. 
Since the information was not indicative of a vehicle-based defect, it is unlikely that any investigation would result in an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect. Upon full consideration of the information presented in the petition and the potential risks to safety, the petition was denied. The denial of the petition does not foreclose the agency from taking further action if warranted, or the potential for a future finding that a safety-related defect exists, based upon additional information. 
Now if they can just get Tesla owners to realize Autopilot isn’t autonomous driving, and to keep their eyes on the road.
[Images: Tesla]
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8 Comments on “Tesla Self-Driving and Unintended Acceleration Not The Same Says NHTSA...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “In a ruling sure to satisfy Teslaphiles and Muskovites”

    Uh, how about engineers, and those interested in the truth about this question? You make it sound as if the NHTSA was brainwashed into their finding.

    Pedal misapplication is a common problem across all brands. In Tesla’s case, blaming Autopilot is probably just as common as trusting it too much. Personally, I want no parts of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Though pedal misapplacation has been the go foe many manufacturers, we know Toyota used a pedal made by CTS that was prone to sticking where the Denson was not. This was uncovered here in 2009 or so and covered for many years after.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    People don’t want to say that they froze while driving.

    A race track instructor once told how a student kept Porsche turbo throttle pinned as they approached the corner at the end of the straight. He was explaining what to do, but he saw that the face of the lady from Hong Kong was completely blank and he recognized that she was frozen. He immediately pulled the handbrake.

  • avatar

    Yeah not buying it. I’m sure Tesla at the directive of Muskrat manipulated the data that went to the NHTSA. I’m sure Tesla has first crack at the data and can manipulate how they see fit.

    Remember Tesla is a tech company. And we’ve seen all too recently how arrogant and disgusting big tech operates. If they don’t like something they manipulate it with no regard for the truth or transparency.

  • avatar

    “In a ruling sure to satisfy Teslaphiles and Muskovites”

    Don’t know what that supposed to mean. Investigation which involved engineers and design and log reviews established the fact and lawsuits against Tesla has no merits. It is not like 1970s when no one knows what happened. Everything these days is logged to the detriment of flash memory. I spend most of time at work investigating logs.

  • avatar

    In a world of objective, data-based fact, you are either right or you are a shameful liar…and thankfully we are now equipped with the tools to make it very uncomfortable for those selfishly misapplying the truth…

    The fact that the review of a paltry 200 or so cases took an entire year would suggest that the petition itself was a farce…wholly without merit and intended only to disrupt the unprecedented rise of Tesla…not unlike the barrage of conspirator lawsuits around the results of the 2020 election…

  • avatar


  • avatar

    These were fun little cars. The rental I had one time felt really sporty. I bet the ACR cars were a blast on the track.

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