NTSB Chief Says Tesla Needs to Be Honest About Its Car Technology

Serena Aburahma
· 4 min read
It's an exciting time for both automakers and car enthusiasts. Technology is advancing at an impressive rate, and automakers like
are leading the charge toward alternative power sources. There are more electric vehicles on the road now than ever before.
It's not just alternative power sources that are exciting, though. Safety features are improving and "self-driving" cars are on the road. Recently, though, some automakers have been called out for
hyping up features, like "self-driving,"
that aren't completely living up to its name.
Is Tesla’s tech causing more harm than good?

What does the new NTSB chief have to say about Tesla?

Jennifer Homendy was recently appointed the chief of the National Traffic Safety Board, and she came out swinging in her very first interview, according to
While Homendy made a point to include "anyone else" in her comments, she did specifically name Tesla. Tesla has been accused of naming some of their features in a way that might be misleading.
Tesla has its
"Autopilot" and "Full Self-Driving" technologies
in their vehicles, which can paint a very different picture to people than what the technology actually is. Those technologies are driver-assist features, and not fully automated self-driving despite what the name suggests.
The names could be misleading, and Homendy pointed out how dangerous that could be. It's not on the consumers to know exactly what they are buying, though you should do your research. Regardless, manufacturers need to be more up-front about what their technology actually does.
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Expectations of Teslas are exceeding reality

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Many consumers to believe that their vehicles are fully self-driving and don't need driver input, part of which is the naming of the technology. The names of the driver-assist technology could be misleading, and the manufacturer should provide clarity to the consumers.
What's even more alarming is that even NTSB officials didn't know what the technology actually was. Jalopnik reports that Homendy attended a conference in which safety officials thought that there were more self-driving models on the roads.
These officials investigate and mitigate highway accidents, and even they had far different expectations, based on what the technology was called, than what it actually is.
The gap between expectation and reality is a dangerous thing. A consumer who doesn't understand that the "Full Self-Driving" technology doesn't actually do that is getting into a terrible situation. There are safety risks that need to be addressed.
But it’s not just the names of the technology that leads to those expectations. Advertisements often play up these technologies, and little has been done to show consumers that these are not actually self-driving cars.

Consumers must receive the right information to make smart decisions

MORE: How California Is Ensuring Safety in the Autonomous Vehicle Market
It's extremely important that the public is not only getting reliable information but that they’re getting it in a timely manner. Considering these new issues, Homendy has asked for additional funding for the NTSB so they can continue to assess how accidents happen.
Armed with that data, they can then begin to mitigate accidents by making sure that the public knows where the risks are.
In order to have the most reliable information, automakers like Tesla would help consumers by being more forthcoming about what their technology actually can and cannot do. Consumers have to be able to make informed decisions about using the technology in their vehicles.
Homendy pointed out that we're in a transitional time, where technology changes quickly. She says, "I hear a lot about innovation, I'm not hearing a lot about safety."
Technology can help make driving safer, and the NTSB is looking to make sure that’s what it’s doing, and not the opposite.

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