The report focuses on vehicles with so-called Level 2 software, which is software that can accelerate or decelerate the car and turn the steering wheel if necessary, but requires an attentive driver who is ready to regain control at any time. In total, Tesla models were the subject of nearly 70% of the reports of the 392 accidents listed, for almost all between July 2021 and mid-May 2022, according to the NHTSA. The agency nevertheless specifies that the same accident may have been the subject of several reports and that the figures published on Wednesday “are not significant data in terms of safety”. To be counted, an accident must have occurred while the driving assistant had been activated at some point during the previous 30 seconds. Another criterion, the incident must have involved either a pedestrian or a two-wheeler (bicycle or motorcycle), or the transport to the hospital of an individual, or have caused the triggering of the airbag or have required the removal of the vehicle.
Of the 11 other manufacturers listed, only Honda received a significant number of reports (90). The NHTSA recalls that the number of accidents must be related to that of the manufacturer’s vehicles equipped with a driving assistance system. Tesla is, by far, the brand with the largest fleet of this type in the United States. NHTSA recently expanded an investigation, which began last summer, into the potential link between Tesla’s driver assistance system and a series of crashes with emergency vehicles. The investigation moved from preliminary assessment to engineering analysis, the last step before a possible recall. Autopilot, the electric vehicle maker’s system, is supposed to help the driver follow the path of the road and keep the correct distance from other vehicles, but Tesla makes it clear that the driver must remain alert at all times. Asked by AFP, Tesla did not respond immediately.