https://www-latimes-com.cdn.ampproject. ... lot-safetyDMV probing whether Tesla violates state regulations with self-driving claims
. . . Asked for detail, DMV spokesperson Anita Gore said via email, “The DMV cannot comment on the pending review.” She did list the penalties that might be applied if a company is found to have violated DMV regulations that prohibit misleading advertising concerning automated vehicles.
In small print, Tesla says on its website that full self-driving “does not make the car autonomous” and that “active supervision” is required by the driver. But social media are rife with videos showing drivers, mostly young men, overcoming Tesla’s easily defeated driver-monitoring system to crawl into the back seat and let the Tesla “drive itself” down public highways. . . .
Although a driver is legally responsible for such misbehavior, the fine print in Tesla advertising provides a weak defense against deceptive marketing allegations, said Bryant Walker Smith, a leading expert on automated vehicle law at the University of South Carolina. He cites the Lanham Act, the federal law that governs trademarks.
If the DMV finds Tesla is misleading customers, potential penalties include suspension or revocation of DMV autonomous vehicle deployment permits and manufacture and dealer licenses, the DMV spokesperson said. She added that “a vehicle operating on public roads using autonomous technology without first obtaining a permit can be removed from the public roadway by a police officer.”
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has no authority to regulate vehicle advertising, the DMV’s own rules allow it to sanction manufacturers that advertise a vehicle as autonomous when it is not. The Federal Trade Commission also regulates such advertising; an FTC spokesperson declined to comment. A request to interview the DMV’s director, Steve Gordon, was declined. Tesla lacks a media relations department.
In July 2020, a Munich court ruled that Tesla had been misleading consumers about the capabilities of its autonomous systems and ordered the company’s German subsidiary to stop using phrases such as “full potential for autonomous driving” on its website and in advertising materials. . . .
“Tesla seems to be asking for legal trouble on many fronts,” law professor Smith said. “From the FTC and its state counterparts for deceptive marketing. From the California DMV for, potentially, crossing into the realm of autonomous vehicle testing without state approval, from competitors with driver assistance systems, competitors with actual automated driving systems, ordinary consumers, and future crash victims who could sue under state or federal law.”
Tesla is facing hundreds of lawsuits. At least several deaths have been connected with use or misuse of Autopilot. NHTSA has more than 20 investigations open on Tesla, though how long they’ll take to be resolved, NHTSA won’t say. . . .
https://www-latimes-com.cdn.ampproject. ... in-vehicleTesla driver in fatal California crash had posted videos of himself in vehicle
The driver of a Tesla involved in a fatal crash that California highway authorities said may have been operating on Autopilot posted social media videos of himself riding in the vehicle without his hands on the wheel or foot on the pedal.
The May 5 crash in Fontana, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, is also under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Theprobe is the 29th case involving a Tesla that the federal agency has probed.
In the Fontana crash, a 35-year-old man identified as Steven Michael Hendrickson was killed when his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi on a freeway about 2:30 a.m. . . .
Another man was seriously injured when the electric vehicle hit him as he was helping the semi’s driver out of the wreck.
The California Highway Patrol announced Thursday that its preliminary investigation had determined that the Tesla’s partially automated driving system called Autopilot “was engaged” before the crash. The agency said it was commenting on the Fontana crash because of the “high level of interest” about Tesla crashes and because it was “an opportunity to remind the public that driving is a complex task that requires a driver’s full attention.”
However on Friday, the agency walked back its previous declaration.
“To clarify,” a new CHP statement said, “There has not been a final determination made as to what driving mode the Tesla was in or if it was a contributing factor to the crash. . . .”
Tesla, which has disbanded its public relations department, did not respond Friday to an email seeking comment. The company says in its owner’s manuals and on its website that both Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving” are not fully autonomous and that drivers must pay attention and be ready to intervene at any time.
Autopilot at times has had trouble dealing with stationary objects and traffic crossing in front of Teslas.
[Desc.of FL, Mountain View fatal crashes]
Tesla’s system, which uses cameras, radar and short-range sonar, also has trouble handling stopped emergency vehicles. Teslas have struck several firetrucks and police vehicles that were stopped on freeways with their flashing emergency lights on.
After the Florida and California fatal crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Tesla develop a stronger system to ensure drivers are paying attention, and that it limit use of Autopilot to highways where it can work effectively. Neither Tesla nor the safety agency took action. . . .
NHTSA, which has authority to regulate automated driving systems and seek recalls if necessary, seems to have developed a renewed interest in the systems since President Biden took office.
[Snore . . . Riinng . . . Snore . . . Riiinng . . . snore . . Riinngg . . . Snort! Grabs phone] National Highway Transportstion Administration! Uh, what? Yes sir, wide awake and on the job. We'll get right on that! Yes, sir, goodbye, sir. [Phone is hung up. . . . . . . snore].
While we're still waiting on confirmation, it's likely a non-occupant was injured by a Tesla driving itself, which collided with a semi-dumptruck lying on its side on the freeway. Do you suppose that the regulatory agencies will finally do their jobs?