President Biden’s Pick For An NHTSA Safety Advisor Raises Concerns About Anti-Tesla Bias

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President Biden is planning to pick Steven Cliff, the deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to head the agency, Reuters reports. Another official told Reuters that Duke University engineering and computer science professor Missy Cummings is being named a new senior adviser for safety at NHTSA, which is part of the U.S. Transportation Department.

You may remember a report released by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) a couple of months ago. The report was a bit misleading in its coverage of Tesla’s Autopilot, and one of the authors is an Independent Director of Veoneer, which competes with portions of Tesla’s Autopilot system. (It is involved in a different technological approach for the same end goal.) Many people in the Tesla community were calling into question the validity of that report based upon the bias of the author and the glaring conflict of interest.

A few days after that article was published, the report was taken down from Duke Pratt School of Engineering and replaced with a page on robotics. I bring this up because Missy Cummings is that author. It seems a bit odd, to say the least, that President Biden is selecting people who are biased against Tesla to be a part of the NHTSA. If he hadn’t have snubbed Tesla on behalf of the UAW over their EV event, it wouldn’t seem so odd, but there’s been a pattern here.

Reuters also noted that in a 2018 interview, Cummings said that the U.S. needs “an entirely new regulatory framework where an agency like NHTSA would oversee [autonomous vehicles].” She added that the NHTSA “does have the authority to mandate testing and other interventions, but they’re not doing it.”

One odd thing about Cummings is that she has blocked many supporters of Tesla, including myself, and I’ve never attacked her. Yes, I called into question her bias, but I’m against bullying in all forms (and even stated this in the initial article about her report). We can hold people accountable without bullying them. But yes, I’m currently blocked by her on Twitter.

That aside, the NHTSA is currently investigating Tesla for crashes involving Autopilot and now it is selecting a person who is well known for having a conflict of interest and a bit of bias against Autopilot as a new senior adviser for safety.

I understand that safety is important — it’s critical. There have been criticisms about Tesla’s FSD from Tesla owners who love the car, love the brand, own shares, and support the mission. I believe in Tesla and its ability to address valid criticisms. However, if the NHTSA is going to be breathing over Tesla’s shoulder while pretending other accidents don’t happen (at a much higher rate per mile), this could lead Tesla to not be so innovative.

Tesla’s top focus is on increasing safety. That may be the top concern of Cummings and administrators at NHTSA as well, but they should not stop Tesla’s efforts at improving safety simply because they disagree with the best methods for doing so.

I think that our leaders need to be able to put aside their biases if they are going to successfully lead. And we need leaders to reduce the impacts of climate change while we still have snippets of time to do so. Instead, they look the other way as fossil fuel companies such as Enbridge steal land from Native Americans to lay down pipelines that could poison the water supply of millions. That’s just one example of the apparent corruption.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider