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NHTSA Wants to Know Why Tesla Did Not Issue a Recall over Autopilot Failures

Engineer Killed in California Tesla Crash Had Complained About Autopilot

U.S. safety regulators want to know why Tesla did not file recall documents when it updated Autopilot software to better identify parked emergency vehicles. According to an Associated Press news report, in a letter to the automaker, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Tesla that it must recall vehicles if an over-the-internet update deals with a safety defect.

The auto giant issued an online update to improve safety but failed to follow NHTSA guidelines regarding road safety recalls.

In its letter to Tesla, the agency said that any manufacturer who issues an over-the-air update “that mitigates a defect that poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety is required to file an accompanying recall notice to NHTSA timely.” The agency also ordered Tesla to provide information about its “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) software that is currently being tested on public roadways with some owners

Crashes Involving Emergency Vehicles

NHTSA launched a probe into Tesla’s Autopilot after receiving multiple reports of vehicles crashing into emergency vehicles with warning lights flashing that were stopped on highways. The software is supposed to keep cars in their lanes and at a safe distance from vehicles in their path.

The federal agency opened an investigation into the Autopilot function after a series of crashes with parked emergency vehicles. This probe covers 765,000 vehicles – nearly all vehicles that Tesla has sold in the U.S. since the start of the 2014 model year. In the dozen crashes that are part of the investigation, 17 were injured and one person was killed.

NHTSA officials pointed out that Tesla did an over-the-internet software update in late September to improve the detection of emergency vehicle lights in low-light conditions. Federal law requires automakers to announce a recall if they find out that vehicles have safety defects, and that Tesla is aware of that law. NHTSA’s letter also asks for a list of events that motivated the software update and the vehicles to which the update was sent.

Why Recalls are Crucial

Under federal law, when automakers learn about a safety defect in their vehicles, they must inform NHTSA about it within five working days and issue recalls. The recall repairs must be done at no cost to consumers. Such recalls allow owners to ensure the repairs are done and because consumers purchasing vehicles can learn about potential safety defects.

Our auto defect lawyers will be following this issue closely. If you have suffered injuries due to a defective auto, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced auto defect attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.


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California Personal Injury Blog