Why Has Tesla Stopped Reporting its Autopilot Safety Numbers?
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a Tesla slammed into a police cruiser in Cochise County, Arizona in 2020, sparking an investigation into Tesla's Autopilot. The National Highway Transportation Highway Administration is investigating as many as eight fatal accidents involving Tesla's Autopilot.
Recently, safety advocates have questioned why Tesla has suddenly stopped reporting its Autopilot safety statistics. Since 2018, Tesla has issued these safety reports every quarter. At around the same time as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began requiring crash reports from car manufacturers who make advanced driver assistance systems like Autopilot. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started releasing that data in June, and the news report states that Tesla's Autopilot numbers do not look good.
Tesla did not explain why the company stopped reporting its Autopilot safety statistics, which measure accident rates per miles driven. Tesla also does not have a media relations department, and Tesla Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, has declined to answer questions posed by safety advocates.
Tesla critic Taylor Ogan, with Snow Bull Capital, stated that he understands why Tesla stopped publishing its safety record, "Because (the safety numbers have) gotten a lot worse."
Last Thursday, the NHTSA reported that it had begun two additional crash investigations involving Tesla's automated-driving vehicles. One crash involved eight motor vehicles, including a Tesla Model S, and happened on the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
According to NHTSA accident numbers, Tesla accidents in the U.S. grew a lot faster than Tesla's sales growth. The average monthly Teslas sales grew by 6%, while Tesla accidents grew by 21%. Moreover, Tesla Autopilot accident numbers are much higher than competing driver-assistance systems from Ford Motor Company and General Motors. Tesla reported more than 500 accidents from July 2021 until November 2022, but Ford and General Motors reported less than ten.
No accident statistics separate Autopilot from Tesla's controversial Full Self-Driving (FSD) system. Tesla's Full Self-Driving system is a $15,000 option, and it has been described as more aspirational than actual. In fact, there are no Full Self-Driving vehicles being sold today. Tesla's Autopilot blends lane-switching systems with adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping on highways. The fine print states that "the human driver must be in full control and is legally liable for crashes — including those involving injuries and deaths."
The number of deaths and injuries involving FSD and Autopilot is not known except to Tesla, and not all accident information that is sent to the NHTSA is made public.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is investigating whether or not Tesla violated the state's rule against marketing vehicles as fully autonomous when they are not fully autonomous. Elon Musk states that Tesla plans to develop a fully autonomous robotaxi that can be purchased, and owners can rent them to earn extra money. In the past, Elon promised that there would be one million robotaxis on the road by 2020. Three years later, not one fully autonomous robotaxi is currently in operation.
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