Some reported sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) events in Tesla vehicles were due to the users making mistake behind the wheel, not Tesla making a faulty product, according to a fresh report from the government’s oversight agency for this matter.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has closed the year-long review of claims that Tesla vehicles were accelerating without warning. The NHTSA said there wasn’t enough evidence to open a full investigation even though it did receive 246 complaints about SUA. In a statement, the agency said: “In every instance in which event data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that SUA crashes in the complaints cited by the petitioner have been caused by pedal misapplication.”
The NHTSA also published its summary which is as follows:
On December 19, 2019, NHTSA received a petition from Mr. Brian Sparks requesting that the Agency “recall all [Tesla] Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles produced from 2013 to the present” due to sudden unintended acceleration (SUA). In his petition and follow-up submissions, the petitioner identified a total of 232 non-duplicative complaints to NHTSA, including 203 reporting crashes.
On January 13, 2020, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened Defect Petition DP20-001 to evaluate the petitioner’s request. ODI’s evaluation included reviews of all complaints and supporting information referenced by the petitioner, as well as 14 additional complaints to NHTSA related to SUA crash allegations that were either not selected by the petitioner or were submitted after the petitioner’s most recent submission.
The review also included analyses of available crash data (EDR, Tesla log data, and/or video data) the Agency acquired as part of the evaluation. After reviewing the available data, ODI has not identified evidence that would support opening a defect investigation into SUA in the subject vehicles. In every instance in which event data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that SUA crashes in the complaints cited by the petitioner have been caused by pedal misapplication.
There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the cited incidents. There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication. 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.
NHTSA is authorized to issue an order requiring notification and remedy of a defect if the Agency’s investigation shows a defect in design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle that presents an unreasonable risk to safety.
49 U.S.C. §§ 30102(a)(9), 30118. Since the information before the Agency is not indicative of a vehicle-based defect, it is unlikely that any investigation opened because of granting this petition would result in an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect. Therefore, upon full consideration of the information presented in the petition and the potential risks to safety, the petition is denied.
The denial of this petition does not foreclose the Agency from taking further action if warranted or the potential for a future finding that a safety-related defect exists based upon additional information the agency may receive.
The Verge was able to get a statement from Brian Sparks after the NHTSA’s findings. “The rate of unintended acceleration reports remains particularly high in Tesla-made vehicles compared to other vehicles, however, I trust the institutions of government. If NHTSA says there is no defect then I believe them. I thank NHTSA for evaluating the SUA allegations.”
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