Nader: Tesla self-driving technology “dangerous and irresponsible”

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Ralph Nader Corvair
Bradley E. Clift for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has targeted Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology, calling  it “one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by a car company in decades,” and calling for a federal recall to have the technology “removed in every Tesla.”

“Tesla should never have put this technology in its vehicles. Now over 100,000 Tesla owners are currently using technology that research shows malfunctions every eight minutes,” Nader said in a statement on his website, Nader.org.

The 86-year-old activist said he is “calling on federal regulators to act immediately to prevent the growing deaths and injuries from Tesla “manslaughtering” crashes with this technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to act swiftly to prevent such disasters. NHTSA has been investigating Tesla and its Full Self-Driving technology for several years. NHTSA must use its safety recall authority to order that the FSD technology be removed in every Tesla.

“This nation should not allow this malfunctioning software which Tesla itself warns may do the ‘wrong thing at the worst time’ on the same streets where children walk to school. Together we need to send an urgent message to the casualty-minded regulators that Americans must not be test dummies for a powerful, high-profile corporation and its celebrity CEO. No one is above the laws of manslaughter.”

Tesla self-driving tech demo
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Nader has been an outspoken critic of the automotive industry since his book, Unsafe at Any Speed The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, was released in 1965. (Nader made specific claims against the safety of the Chevrolet Corvair, which we put to the test.) Since then he has become a controversial, at times almost cartoonish advocate for safety in multiple arenas, culminating with a run for the Presidency.

Automakers reported nearly 400 crashes of vehicles with partially automated driver-assist systems, including 273 involving Teslas, according to statistics released in June by U.S. safety regulators, according to the Associated Press.

Automakers reported crashes from July of last year through May 15 under a mandate from NHTSA, which is examining such crashes broadly for the first time.

“As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world,” said Steven Cliff, the agency’s administrator.

NHTSA opened a formal investigation into Tesla Autopilot in August 2021.

Tesla, which no longer has a formal press office or PR department, has not responded to the Nader statement.

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