On Monday the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced they were launching an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist software following several crashes with emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
Now two U.S. Senators are attempting to ride on the coattails of that investigation.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and serial Tesla critic Ed Markey have formally asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch a separate investigation over what they say is deceptive marketing by Tesla.
On Wednesday the pair sent a letter to the head of the FTC, Lina Khan, saying they have serious concerns about how the automaker advertises their “Full Self-Driving” package. The letter singled out CEO Elon Musk by saying he has no regard for public safety.
“Tesla and Mr. Musk’s repeated overstatements of their vehicle’s capabilities—despite clear and frequent warnings—demonstrate a deeply concerning disregard for the safety of those on the road and require real accountability. Their claims put Tesla drivers—and all of the travelling public—at risk of serious injury or death,” the senators wrote.
What Sens. Markey and Blumenthal fail to see in their argument is that Tesla’s driver-assist features actually save lives. Just last month Autopilot saved the life of a driver who fell unconscious behind the wheel of his car.
Thanks to the software the car was able to stay in its lane and eventually slow down to a complete stop
— TESLA_saves_lives (@SavedTesla) July 31, 2021
Sen. Markey is no stranger when it comes to Tesla. During a Commerce Committee Hearing in November 2019 the US Senator said he was critical of Tesla and its Autopilot feature. He urged the automaker to recall Autopilot due to safety issues until it can be fixed.
A few months later he was again attacking Tesla, this time saying they should rebrand Autopilot and add additional safety features to prevent owners from abusing the system to make it think someone is holding the wheel.
Tesla has repeatedly overstated the capabilities of its Autopilot & Full Self Driving systems. These claims can endanger the safety of everyone on the road. @SenBlumenthal and I are calling on the FTC to investigate Tesla’s potentially deceptive marketing.https://t.co/77BtaIqvtM
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) August 18, 2021