Consumer Watchdog, a safety advocacy group in the U.S., has renewed its demands for a recall of Tesla’s Autopilot feature after a number of crashes. According to a report in The Register, the most recent accident was reported earlier this week when a Tesla Model S smashed into a construction barrier truck on a German motorway at high speed.
Consumer Watch has said that this growing list of Tesla crashes “demonstrates the urgent need to regulate the vehicles’ Autopilot feature.” The California Department of Motor Vehicles also issued draft regulation recently demanding that Tesla stop using the term Autopilot unless the cars are truly self-driving and can be driven without any human backup whatsoever. But Tesla has not done that.
The problem here is that Tesla encourages people to believe that the Autopilot can do more than it actually can. Consumer advocates say the name “Autopilot” in itself is a huge problem because it misleads drivers.
Name of Feature is Misleading
With the crashes that occurred in Germany, that country’s Federal Motor Transport Authority has also suggested that using that name is misleading. In response, Tesla said it worked with a third party to survey vehicle owners in Germany to better understand how they perceive Autopilot. A statement issued by the automaker said 98 percent of customers surveyed said they understand that when using the Autopilot, the driver is expected to maintain control of the vehicle at all times.
Tesla has repeatedly said that the Autopilot is only a driver-assist feature and should be treated as such. Tesla also added that consumer advocates don’t know what they’re talking about. “The inaccurate and sensationalistic view of Autopilot…is exactly the kind of misinformation that threatens to harm consumer safety.
Tesla Must Take Responsibility
It is about time Tesla takes responsibility for this Autopilot feature. So far we know of at least two deaths including one in the U.S. and several injuries that have resulted from Autopilot. In each of these cases Tesla has blamed someone else, mostly the driver for not using the feature properly. Now, they’re saying that a vast majority of drivers know that the Autopilot function is only a driver-assist feature.
This begs the question: Why then are so many Autopilot crashes taking place? Tesla’s statements don’t pass the smell test. Anyone who has been injured in a Tesla Autopilot crash would be well advised to contact an auto defect law firm to better understand his or her legal rights and options.