NHTSA data shows increase in Tesla ‘phantom braking’ reports

The number of incidents involving Tesla vehicles and ‘phantom braking’ have increased substantially in recent months.

Phantom braking is when the vehicle brakes unexpectedly and for no apparent reason while on Autopilot.

According to a review of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data by The Washington Post, 107 owners have complained about the issue in the last three months.

That number might not sound like much, but only 34 complaints were received in the 22 months before that.

The peak occurred in November, when the safety agency received 51 complaints, up from 13 in the previous month.

The NHTSA received 32 and 24 complaints in December in January respectively.

“Using adaptive cruise control with autopilot steering (as well as without Autosteer), multiple episodes of severe ‘phantom breaking [sic]’ where the car slams on the breaks [sic] for no apparent reason. No other cars around. Flat, clear open freeway,” said a Model Y owner in a November complaint.

The agency says they are looking into the issue and are in active discussions with Tesla about the complaints.

“NHTSA is aware of complaints received about forward collision avoidance and is reviewing them through our risk-based evaluation process. This process includes discussions with the manufacturer, as well as reviewing additional data sources, including Early Warning Reporting data. If the data show that a risk may exist, NHTSA will act immediately.”

While unconfirmed, many are speculating the increase in phantom braking issues is the result of Tesla’s decision in May 2021 to ditch radar and rely on cameras for Autopilot and other safety features.

Based on information Drive Tesla has received from owners who have experienced the issue, it often presents itself when a large truck approaches from the opposite direction on an undivided highway.

Have you experienced phantom braking in your Tesla? Let us know in the comments below.

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