Since Tesla started rolling out its advanced driver assistance features, it’s been plagued with problems. We’ve all seen the clips of Tesla’s Autopilot system mistaking road signs, making dangerous turns or failing to brake for simulated children. But now, a report from The Washington Post has uncovered the sheer number of incidents on America’s roads that the system has been involved in, and it’s a lot.
Tesla first unveiled Autopilot back in 2014 and in the years since it claims it has been getting more advanced. Despite this, the software still does not have the ability to drive a car by itself and remains classed as a level two driver-assist feature. This means that a driver must keep their hands on the wheel and be prepared to take over at any time.
Now, it’s been uncovered that the system was engaged during an eye watering number of accidents on America’s roads. In a report by The Post, which was brought to our attention by the folks at Car & Driver, reporters found that the software has been involved in 736 crashes since 2019. Autopilot was also implicated in 17 deaths on roads across America. Car & Driver reports:
“The last time NHTSA released information on fatalities connected to Autopilot, in June 2022, it only tied three deaths to the technology. Less than a year later, the most recent numbers suggest 17 fatalities, with 11 of them happening since May 2022.”
According to the site, that huge uptick in deaths related to the “rapid expansion of Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ software.” The automaker expanded this system from 12,000 vehicles to almost 400,000 over the space of a year. Like Autopilot, the Full Self-Driving system touted by Tesla also can’t actually autonomously operate a car. It is also a level-two autonomous system that requires a human driver at all times.
To uncover just how many collisions Tesla’s systems have been involved in, NHTSA collected data on crashes involving driver-assistance technologies. Of the 807 incidents it logged since 2021, the watchdog found that “almost all” of the incidents involved a Tesla, while Subaru came in second with just 23 crashes reported. Of those crashes that involved a Tesla running Autopilot, The Post found that 17 people died in the crashes. A motorcycle was involved in four of those crashes, while an emergency vehicle was involved in one of them.
NHTSA’s data followed an announcement that it was calling on Tesla to share more details about its Autopilot system with regulators. In 2022, the agency upgraded its probe into the system to be a full blown investigation, and in February this year it recalled every vehicle fitted with Autopilot.
As it stands, NHTSA’s investigation into the 2014–2022 Tesla Model Y, Model X, Model S, and Model 3 remains open and involves around 830,000 of the company’s vehicles.
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