Tesla’s autonomous technology has come under scrutiny after two new fatal crashes last month

Tesla's autonomous technology has come under scrutiny after two new fatal crashes last month

Tesla’s controversial advanced driver-assistance technology is back in the spotlight after it appeared twice in the US Highway Safety Administration’s fatal accident data last month.


The top traffic safety agency in the US is investigating two fatal accidents involving Tesla electric cars in the past month.

Since July 2021, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) has required automakers with Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems to report accidents involving the advanced technology within 24 hours of the occurrence of the incident — followed by a subsequent updated report up to nine days later .

Advanced “level two” driver-assistance systems (an industry ranking that indicates different tiers of autonomous technology) include features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist — but drivers always have a legal obligation to stay in control. The technology is intended more as a failsafe than something to rely on.



As reported by Automotive NewsTwo Tesla Model 3 electric cars were involved in separate accidents resulting in one fatality between September 16 and October 15 – although it’s not yet clear if the automaker’s advanced driver assistance systems were to blame.

Over the 30-day period, NHTSA recorded 18 fatal accidents in the United States involving cars equipped with advanced driver assistance systems — the two Tesla incidents accounted for more than 10 percent of the total data over the period.

While both Tesla crashes occurred in California, Automotive News claims the NHTSA data was redacted or classified as confidential.



Recent fatal accidents have increased scrutiny of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance systems.

As previously reported, from July 2021 to June 2022, NHTSA data recorded 392 accidents — involving 12 different car brands — involving vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems. In this sample, Tesla vehicles accounted for 273 — or 70 percent — of the incidents.

Of the six fatalities that included advanced driver assistance systems as a factor, 83 percent of those accidents were due to Tesla cars.



Last month, foreign reports revealed that the US Department of Justice had launched a criminal investigation into Tesla in 2021 after more than a dozen car accidents involving cars from the US auto giant were involved.

The investigation claims drivers have over-relied on Tesla’s driver-assistance technology because the systems’ names exaggerate their true capabilities and ignore their limitations.

Tesla advertises its three products as “Autopilot”, “Enhanced Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving Capability” – each offering various advanced Level 2 driver assistance features.



autopilot is similar to a range of other advanced driver assistance systems offered by several automakers, offering adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Improved autopilot adds features like automatic navigation, lane changing and parking while allowing the car to be called by its owner.

While the only addition to Completely self-propelled The ability to recognize and stop traffic signs and traffic lights is the most controversial of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance systems.



Full Self-Driving – also known as “FSD” – was released in September 2021 and is a “beta” service being tested by the electric car giant’s customers on public roads in real time, with Tesla collecting the data to to improve system.

In 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that Full Self-Driving would be legal on US roads by the end of the year. The executive repeated the comments in 2021 and earlier this year.

Last month, Mr Musk announced that Tesla’s next level of driver-assistance systems would not be approved for use on US roads until late 2022, although the technology would be made available to the electric-car giant’s customers.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach was born in Canberra/Ngunnawal and currently resides in Brisbane/Turrbal. Jordan joined the Drive team in 2022 and has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. A self-proclaimed iRacing addict, Jordan finds himself either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or berating his ZH Fairlane over the weekend.

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