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Consumer Reports calls for major safety improvements across the industry after NTSB makes new findings in Tesla investigation

Investigative board again presses for standards to keep drivers engaged when using active driver-assist systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In light of new findings by the National Transportation Safety Board related to Tesla Autopilot, Consumer Reports today called for manufacturers to include key safety features in any vehicle that has an active driving assistance system — a type of emerging technology that helps human drivers accelerate, brake, and steer but also requires them to be responsible for the driving at any moment — and for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure that is the case. 

Ethan Douglas, senior policy analyst for cars and product safety at Consumer Reports, said, “This shouldn’t be considered optional. Manufacturers and NHTSA must make sure that these driver-assist systems come with critical safety features that actually verify drivers are monitoring the road and ready to take action at all times. Otherwise, the safety risks of these systems could end up outweighing their benefits.

“The evidence is clear, and continuing to pile up, that if a car makes it easier for people to take their attention off the road, they’re going to do so—with potentially deadly consequences. So far, federal safety regulators have done little to reduce these risks, and the NTSB makes clear that NHTSA’s hands-off approach is far too weak. It’s time for NHTSA to go beyond mere words and take some real, forceful action to keep people safe.”

CR’s call comes as the NTSB today released a preliminary report on the fatal March 2018 crash of a Tesla vehicle with Autopilot engaged. The NTSB attributed the crash to several factors, including Autopilot’s limitations and “cell phone distraction.” The investigative board also reiterated that regulators and manufacturers alike have ignored the NTSB’s previous recommendations for system safeguards, and called for an overhaul of how manufacturers design their active driving assistance systems to ensure a human driver stays engaged and ready to take action.

CR previously stressed the need for effective systems to verify driver engagement after the NTSB released the results of its investigation into an Uber test vehicle that struck and killed an Arizona woman in 2018.


Media Contacts: 

David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

Adam Winer, Adam.Winer@consumer.org, 202-462-6262 x7444


Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.