U.S. Highway Safety Demands Answers from Tesla on ‘Ghost Brakes’

The investigation is ongoing, and after collecting the data, the federal agency will analyze it while asking Tesla a few nasty questions.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American federal agency responsible for road safety) continues to add to its file on the testimonies of phantom braking observed on the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y of 2021 and 2022. Last month, it said it had received 758 reports from drivers claiming to have suffered “unexpected brake activations” and had just changed the status of the investigation from “investigation” to “technical analysis”. The latter is the final level, and in most cases NHTSA decides within a year whether there should be a recall or whether the investigation is closed.

Allegations of phantom braking are not new. This expression refers to an intervention of the driving assistance systems responding to the detection of something that does not exist by using the braking system. Of course, this is not really what you want when you are driving for example on the highway or with someone behind you.

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At this point, NHTSA asked Tesla to provide answers to a number of questions and submit data for analysis. If it does not comply, the brand of Elon Musk should face heavy fines. Documents released by the agency reveal serious problems with Tesla’s Autopilot system, such as the ability to use it in areas where its capabilities are limited or why, on many occasions, drivers are not intervened to avoid accidents despite vehicle alerts.

A total of 16 accidents were reported with intervention vehicles or work trucks with light signals, causing 15 injuries and one death. The investigation now covers 830,000 vehicles, nearly all Teslas sold in the United States since the 2014 model year. Investigators will analyze other data, vehicle performance and “explore the degree to which the Tesla’s Autopilot and related systems exacerbate risky driving by diminishing the effectiveness of driver supervision.

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