Tesla electric vehicles used to be equipped with radar sensors that were designed to improve their safety. However, these safety features were discontinued almost two years ago on new and existing models. Since then, there has been a report of an increase in motor vehicle accidents and near misses involving these vehicles.
The radar technology
The radar sensor technology was designed to recognize dangers from far-away distances and other vehicles on the road.
However, Teslas manufactured after May 2021 were not equipped with these radar sensors and the radar sensors were disabled in vehicles already in use.
The company’s reasoning was that their vehicles were already equipped with numerous cameras designed to identify potential dangers in all directions on the road, making the extra sensors superfluous.
The crash problem
However, according to a Washington Post report, regulators began receiving more reports after the sensors were discontinued about Teslas decelerating unexpectedly, reading street signs wrong and not sensing emergency vehicles in the vicinity.
The report states that in 2021, more than 750 Tesla owners reported “phantom braking” problems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In addition, the NHTSA upped its investigation into Tesla crashes and their correlation with the vehicle’s driver-assist feature. Of the crashes investigated, one was fatal, and 17 people suffered injuries in the others. The agency reported that these cars were not correctly recognizing emergency vehicles that were parked at the scenes of accidents.
According to the Washington Post, some Tesla engineers were deeply troubled about the discontinuation of Tesla’s radar technology. Still, it was determined that cameras were sufficient to be the “eyes” of the vehicles, citing costs and supply chain issues in regard to the elimination of the radar sensors.
Should Teslas be equipped with radar sensors?
It can be argued that radar sensors would make Teslas safer. Many of Tesla’s competitors already use such technology on their semi-autonomous vehicles.
Ultimately, it is important to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents on our roads. Already too many collisions take place when drivers are negligent. Just because a vehicle has semi-autonomous features does not absolve motorists of their duty of care to drive reasonably under the circumstances to avoid causing a collision.
As this recent report regarding Tesla shows, semi-autonomous vehicles are not foolproof. Drivers of these automobiles should always remember that ultimately, they are responsible for controlling their vehicles.