The NHTSA is Investigating Tesla's Autopilot Recall

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Late last year, Tesla recalled two million vehicles to add more driver monitoring safeguards to its Autopilot feature, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is worried it might not have done enough. The NHTSA recently announced that it was opening an investigation into the recall after crashes involving “fixed” vehicles and its early testing on the issue.

Autopilot had already been under investigation by the NHTSA for years, with the agency saying that “Tesla’s weak driver engagement system was not appropriate for Autopilot’s permissive operating capabilities.” It also noted that the deficiencies created a “critical safety gap.”

Part of Tesla’s recall fix also requires the driver to opt in and lets them easily reverse it, which, you know, defeats the purpose of a recall. At the time of the action, the automaker said its controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse,” noting that they could increase the risk of a crash. The NHTSA’s investigation also found more than a dozen fatal accidents where the driver’s abuse of the system contributed.

Tesla’s marketing and naming conventions have also been questioned, with the NHTSA saying that Autopilot could inspire false confidence in the system’s capabilities. Its Full Self-Driving feature is in the same boat, though the automaker recently included new language on its website that outlines the need for an attentive driver. Still, there are several examples of gross driver abuse of the tech online, so it might be time for Tesla to actually do something to fix the problem.

[Image: Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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  • SCE to AUX What a farce.Besides, "patriotism" has been redefined a hundred different ways in the last 20+ years. Disagree with one of them, and you're a traitor.And for starters, Jeep is a Stellantis brand with its HQ in the Netherlands. If this persistent myth about patriotism is ever cracked, the brand is doomed.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm definitely seeing more dealer-level discounts than I did a year ago, but not a lot of lower MSRPs.
  • MaintenanceCosts Some people are fooled by sticking little flag badges on stuff, I guess.
  • Bkojote I'm proud to drive my Jeep, an American car that was made in Mexico and engineered in Italy for Brazil by a French-Italian company discarded by the Germans and now headquartered in the Netherlands.Sure my Renegade is a pile, but it's the same brand that made the XJ Cherokee! And that's as American as they come, as it was financed and engineered by the French whose colors are also red white and blue, and who could forget the Wrangler, which is proudly assembled in Ohio by a Korean firm they subcontracted to.
  • Paul Alexander Pretty cool that WalMart, the driving force behind consumer products all being Made-In-China and the destruction of Main Street USA, is considered patriotic.