Consumer Reports Calls for Transparency in Tesla Crash Investigations
UNITED STATES – According to a news report posted online at forbes.com, Consumer Reports is calling for more transparency regarding federal investigations of vehicle crashes that involved Tesla vehicles and the semi-autonomous driving system Autopilot. The push from Consumer Reports comes after a document dump revealed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had issued a subpoena to Tesla regarding recent vehicle accidents.*
In early August, the site PlainSite posted online a series of communications between Tesla and NHTSA, which were obtained by way of a FOIA request. The documents included a letter to Tesla’s CEO telling the company to cease and desist mischaracterization of federal crash results on its Model 3. The documents also included a subpoena to Tesla regarding traffic accidents in which Tesla vehicles had crashed while using Autopilot.
Autopilot is a semi-autonomous driving system equipped in Tesla vehicles. The system allows drivers to turn control of some vehicle operations over to the car. Numerous accidents in the United States have now been reported that involved Autopilot in some capacity, including a crash that happened in Florida in March 2019 in which a Tesla Model 3 slammed into a tractor-trailer while in Autopilot mode.
The existence of a federal investigation into Tesla or its Autopilot system was reportedly not known to the public prior to the document release from PlainSite. Consumer Reports is now saying that NHTSA and federal officials need to be more transparent about these issues.
“We’ve been calling for an investigation into potential defects in Tesla’s Autopilot system after multiple crashes,” said Consumer Reports Vice President for Advocacy David Friedman. “Consumers should be aware when an investigation has been opened. Defect investigations are critical.”
Tesla responded to the PlainSite publication by saying the documents were “business as usual” and had not been hidden from the public.
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