Washington (June 9, 2022) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and, members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, issued the following joint statement after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) upgraded its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis after identifying additional crashes at first responder sites:
“We are encouraged that NHTSA has escalated its probe into Tesla’s Autopilot after discovering even more crashes that point to a disturbing, deadly pattern. The agency must swiftly complete this important investigation to determine if a recall is necessary while taking all steps in its power to prevent any more lives from being lost. NHTSA’s findings will be essential to improving the safety of automated driving and advanced driver assistance systems for the sake of public safety. Every day that Tesla disregards safety rules and misleads the public about its Autopilot system, our roads become more dangerous.”
Senators Markey and Blumenthal have been raising concerns about the safety issues created by autonomous vehicle (AV) technology for years. In April 2021, Blumenthal and Markey sent a letter to NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), calling for federal investigators to conduct an in-depth probe into a deadly Texas crash, and to develop recommendations for how automated driving and driving assistance systems like Tesla’s Autopilot can be improved. The full text of the letter can be found here. Amid a series of Tesla crashes in August 2021, Senators Markey and Blumenthal voiced serious concerns about Tesla’s misleading advertising and marketing of its Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (FSD) features to consumers, and called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation and take enforcement action. In May 2018, the Senators queried major automakers and technology companies developing AVs on public roads about safety protocols for test-driving their vehicles.