The Feds Conclude Tesla Drivers Don't Understand Braking

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The review over sudden unintended acceleration has been closed.

No new car or truck is perfect but some are certainly better than others. Take Tesla, for example. The electric vehicle automaker has not only changed the auto industry forever but also altered the automobile itself with its advanced battery-electric powertrains and over-the-air-updates. Safety has been another key area for CEO and co-founder Elon Musk since day one, though systems like Autopilot have hindered that. But when reports of sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) incidents first appeared a few years ago, Tesla took notice. So did the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The US auto safety agency recently completed its review of 662,000 Teslas regarding SUA claims and found no evidence of faulty accelerator pedal assemblies, or brake and motor control systems.

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Instead, the reported incidents "were caused by pedal misapplication." Translation: some owners don't know the difference between the brake pedal and accelerator. The Tesla Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y were all investigated following 232 consumer complaints received by the NHTSA and 203 related crashes. The agency formally opened a review in January 2020.

"There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication," the agency concluded. "The theory provided of a potential electronic cause of SUA in the subject vehicles is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data."

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2017-2021 Tesla Model S Front View Driving Tesla
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Tesla has not yet responded to the NHTSA's report but it previously claimed its systems were perfectly safe and driver error was the cause. One such incident took place back in 2017 when a Model X owner sued Tesla after he crashed the SUV through his garage and into the living room. Tesla quickly countered after it examined the SUV's "black box." The data indicated the crash was the result of the driver pressing the accelerator pedal all the way.

Furthermore, Tesla said at the time Autopilot, if it had been engaged, could have prevented that from happening because the system can distinguish between inaccurate pedal application and normal situations.

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