Fully self-driving Teslas are not as safe as executives and investors claim, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows.
Tesla released a very limited beta version of their Tesla Full Self Driving (FSD) beta program in October of 2020. By January 1st, 2021, dozens of safety complaints had already been filed by drivers participating in the FSD beta program. These complaints include Tesla cars failing to brake, braking at incorrect times, jerking towards other vehicles, moving into wrong lanes, jumping curbs, and even failing to allow the human driver to regain control. At least eight complaints resulted in crashes, and many more were near-crashes avoided only through the actions of the human driver.
In January of 2021, Santa Monica investment manager and Tesla supporter Ross Gerber made a statement claiming that “there has not been one accident or injury since FSD beta launch. Not one. Not a single one.” To which Elon Musk replied “Correct.”
Since then, Tesla has been criticized for opening up the beta testing to non-professional drivers on public roads, but Elon Musk has not made any comments regarding the recently uncovered number of FSD related crashes, reported the Los Angeles Times.
You can read the descriptions of FSD related crashes reported to NHTSA below. You can find the NHTSA complaints document here. (Hit ‘Download Data’ and select ‘Complaints Received 2020-2022’)
- Southhampton, NY: “We were driving our Model 3 on autopilot on the LIE from Southampton to New York. We have the “Full Self Driving” software from Tesla. We drove past a parked SUV about halfway through the ride, but the Tesla did not notice. It drove straight through the side of the SUV, ripping off the side mirror and skullcap from our car. We checked and the SUV driver was totally fine, scared. We called Tesla immediately and told them that in our opinion, our car had gone crazy and did not see the but my wife and I were other car stopped in the shoulder as we drove by at 60 mph. We have the invoices from Tesla service documenting this issue and their repair of it, but we were then and remain now really scared when a car has its hazards on in the shoulder.
- Houston, TX: “I want to report an issue I have with Tesla concerning the damage that occurred to my vehicle as a result of a failure of Tesla FSD version 10.3 firmware release 2021.36.5.2 recalled by Tesla on 10/29/21 NHTSA recall number 21V-846. At noon on 10-24-21, I was testing the latest release of FSD as part of the beta program. My Tesla was in self-driving mode on a city street at 35 mph. This was the same route it had already successfully done earlier in the day, when suddenly the car jumped over the curb, causing damage to the bumper, to the wheel and a flat tire. This appeared to have been caused by a discolored patch in the road that gave the FSD a false perception of an obstacle which it tried to avoid. Immediately after the accident, the car was towed to the service center. The repair was finished on 10/27/21 at which time I was asked to pay $2,332.37 to take possession of the car. I explained that the damage was caused by the recalled version of FSD NHTSA recall number 21V-846 and that Tesla should be liable for the damages. I was advised that the engineering team would conduct an investigation and based on the results the money would be reimbursed. However, I did not agree to pay hoping that after the investigation Tesla would honor the recall. After two months of waiting, there is still no communication on the results of the investigation even though the case is quite simple. The car was going straight at a very low speed in self-driving mode. There is nothing except the recalled version of FSD that could have changed its trajectory. Therefore, it is obvious that nobody looked at this issue and there is no commitment to doing so anytime soon. I communicated using the Tesla app chat that I am not willing to wait indefinitely and gave notice that I intend to file a petition with the Court. I gave e-mail notice to Tesla’s resolution team as well to make sure that my notice reaches Tesla’s legal department. I have paid the invoice on 12/22/21 to get my car back.”
- Brea, CA: “Vehicle was in FSD Beta mode and while taking a left turn the car went into the wrong lane and I was hit by another driver in the lane next to my lane. the car gave an alert 1/2 way through the turn so I tried to turn the wheel to avoid it from going into the wrong lane but the car by itself took control and forced itself into the incorrect lane creating an unsafe maneuver putting everyone involved at risk. car is severely damaged on the driver side.”
- Collettsville, NC: “Autopilot was engaged, driver had hand on steering wheel, vehicle was traveling less than 35MPH (speed limit) and coming around a corner when it misjudged the road curve. The road curved to the left and as the car took the turn it took too wide of a turn and veered slightly off the road. Unfort the front right side of car went up and over the begining of a rock incline. The front right tire blew out and ONLY the side AIrBags deployed (both sides). The car traveled about 500 yards along the road and then turned itself off. I could not get the horn to work, nor put it in neutral. There were no warning signs before incident. In fact the I belong to a beta driving scoring rating and for that day Tesla rated me a 91/100. I called Tesla roadside assistance and they said they would not provide any help as it was viewed as an accident and not a self-driving issue. It was reported to Tesla and I have called several times to try and understand why the car didn’t stay in the lane and why only the side airbags deployed. I reported this to Tesla Customer support and was now told they would not provide any information based upon their analysis, although initially I was told that it would take 5 weeks for engineering to review and get back to me. Vehicle is at repair facility and was told damage to car will be almost $28-30K. Car previously had issues with Forward Collision Warning system going off, although I was not aware there was a recall regarding this exact problem, back in October 2021.”
- Troy, MO: “Monday November 22 at around 6:15 PM CST, I was driving my model Y and had Tesla’s Full Self Driving Beta software engaged. A right banked curve on a two lane road in a rural area came up with a vehicle coming around the curve the opposite direction. The Model Y slowed slightly and began making the turn properly and without cause for concern. Suddenly, about 40% of the way through the turn, the Model Y straightened the wheel and crossed over the center line into the direct path of the oncoming vehicle. I reacted as quickly as I could, trying to pull the vehicle back into the lane. I really did not have a lot of time to react, so chose to override FSD by turning the steering wheel since my hands were already on the wheel and I felt this would be the fastest way to avoid a front overlap collision with the oncoming vehicle. When I attempted to pull the vehicle back into my lane, I lost control and skidded off into a ditch and through the woods, causing significant damage to the vehicle. I was able to retrieve the dashcam footage of this incident and it is attached here. I did analyze the footage myself briefly. You can see the vehicle leave the lane, and within about 10 frames, I had already begun pulling back into the lane before losing control and skidding off the road. Since this video is recorded at about 36 FPS, this would mean I reacted within 360ms of the lane departure. I understand it is my responsibility to pay attention and maintain control of the vehicle, which I agreed to when I enrolled in FSD beta. I was paying attention, but human reaction does not get much faster than this and I am not sure how I could have otherwise avoided this incident. I am thankful this was the outcome rather than a front overlap collision with the oncoming vehicle, which would have likely resulted in bodily injury. Tesla has confirmed that FSD beta was engaged, per the attached correspondence, but insists that this incident and the resulting accident are my responsibility.”
- Jackson, MO: “The car was on FSD jerked right toward a semi truck then jerked left toward the posts in the median as it was accelerating and FSD would not turn off. Was trying to control the car but it kept pushing and accelerating causing us to crash in to the median posts. Normally FSD would turn off if it was unsure but this day it would not. Plus other times it would phantom brake if we were on 2 lane road and met on oncoming large truck. We also had other times of phantom braking going over a hill. We have reported this to Tesla but no response yet. We owned this car 11 days when our wreck happened.”
- Hercules, CA: “Tesla Mold S with Autopilot feature in August 2018, then upgraded it to Full Self Driving for $5,000 and got it through a software update at the end of 2021. But this FSD feature has many defects such as hesitating before turning or stopping at a sign, which makes the car swing around like a drunk; Sometimes it doesn’t turn the turn signal on when changing the line, and even enters into the reverse lane. If the above problems can be taken over by switching human drive to avoid accidents, phantom braking is a terrible safety problem that can not avoid accidents. There have been many times in which the vehicle suddenly decelerated and braked without warning while driving by FSD. Fortunately, the rear vehicle did not follow too close or the rear driver took deceleration measures in time to avoid rear-end collisions. But on January 5 this year, not so lucky, I was just out of the Tesla services center of Berkeley, my vehicle under SFD to the Ninth Street and Gilman Street intersection and is turning left from north to the east after the green light on, but the phantom braking happened when driving road central, the vehicle behind me didn’t react and bumped into my car. The rear-end collision not only caused serious damage to the vehicle but also caused very discomfort in the driver’s neck from the violent vibration of the collision. Although the accident was dealt with by the insurance companies of both parties and the damaged body was repaired in the Bodyshop designated by the insurance company, I contacted the customer service of Tesla many times and reported the accident to them, hoping that they could arrange a comprehensive inspection to make sure that no other parts were damaged in the accident besides the body. However, Tesla’s customer services reacted badly, either prevaricating or ignoring it. The accident has been nearly half a year since the accident happened, but I have not received a positive response or solution from them. “
- Dallas,TX: “I was driving on full self driving assistance on the highway on the far left lane. I wanted to change lane to exit but notice a car was in my blind spot so I tried to take over the car my tugging the wheel. The car sounded an alarm indicating I was going to crash I think into the left median, so it auto corrected to pull towards the right lane. I didn’t want to hit any incoming car so I tried to tug it left. I believe I was fighting with the car to regain control of the car and ended up hitting the left median which ricochet the car all the way to the right hitting the median, where the car came to a stop.”