Success: Tesla’s Reportedly Dangerous Self-Driving Cars Under Investigation

Target: Joon H. Kim, Officeholder of the US Department of Justice

Goal: Acknowledge the efforts taken to investigate the veracity of the Tesla Autopilot suite.

The highly marketed automatic suite of Tesla vehicles is being investigated by federal agencies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a probe following the alleged Autopilot failure involved in an eight-vehicle pile-up on Thanksgiving Day. The ForceChange community took action and sent this petition to the United States government to speed up the investigative process. Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a subpoena to the company, seeking documentation on the truthfulness of its ‘Full Self Driving’ claims.

NHTSA records indicate that over a year, the advanced driving feature has been involved in more than 270 known crash incidents. Furthermore, the reports notify a total of 19 fatalities involving controversial self-driving suite since 2016. In addition, US drivers have lately lodged more than 100 complaints with the NHTSA on the ‘phantom braking’ issue in Tesla vehicles.

Ann Carlson, the acting head of the NHTSA, recently spoke to journalists on this matter at the sidelines of a Washington event. She confirmed that the investigation is proceeding quickly. She clarified that the agency is in the process of deploying advanced technical expertise, along with crucial ‘legal novelty’ to complete its review. She declined to set a timeframe but ensured that the NHTSA wants to make sure that it has all the information ready. Meanwhile, the company confirmed that it has received requests from the DOJ to furnish adequate documentation regarding Autopilot and Full Self Driving mode. In the same vein, Tesla categorically denied any knowledge of an ongoing investigation. The company also denied that it has been involved in any wrongdoing in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Auto experts have claimed that the ‘Full Self Driving’ nomenclature can be misleading. Given the circumstantial evidence, relying on Full Self Driving mode might be counterproductive, and may pose a safety risk. Acknowledge this strong step undertaken by the Department of Justice that has the potential to make the company more accountable to its shareholders.


Dear Attorney Kim,

The Tesla Autopilot suite has been involved in more than 270 known crashes in the last 2 years. In addition, data from NHTSA indicates that the self-driving feature might have been responsible for 19 fatalities since 2016. The NHTSA is in the due process of completing its extensive review of the claimed safety and convenience of the Full Self Driving mode.

The Department of Justice recently issued a legal notice to Tesla, seeking documentation to support the veracity of its claimed Autopilot and Full Self Driving feature. We appreciate this strong step taken by the government to protect its citizens from a major potential public health risk.

The company has confirmed the receipt of the subpoena from the DOJ. However, it has also simultaneously denied the knowledge of any ongoing investigation by federal agencies, or that it has been a party to any wrongdoing in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Attorney Kim, we would appreciate your oversight on this matter as a senior officeholder with the DOJ.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Trevor Cokley

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