Second Fatal Tesla Crash Shows Firm Can’t Be Trusted, Need For Mandatory Safety Standards

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SANTA MONICA, CA – The new revelation of a second fatal Tesla crash while the vehicle was likely on autopilot shows the company cannot be trusted to deal with deadly failures in its vehicles and underscores the need for enforceable federal safety standards covering autonomous vehicle technology, Consumer Watchdog said today.

China’s CCTV reported Wednesday that Gao Yaning, 23, died in January after crashing into the back of a road sweeping truck near Handan, 300 miles south of Beijing. CCTV said the Tesla Model S was on autopilot.

“Tesla’s Failure to report the death of another of its human guinea pigs in a timely manner is unconscionable,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “It also makes it clear that autonomous vehicle technologies must be subject to safety regulations that are enforceable by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

View CCTV’s coverage of the crash, including video taken from the Tesla, here:

What was widely believed to be the first fatal Tesla crash in Florida killed Joshua Brown, 40, in May.  It was not revealed until late June.  

“Tesla’s vehicles are connected and data is transmitted to the company.  There is no way that Tesla was unware of the China crash. Keeping it secret since January smacks of a cover-up,” said Simpson.

Consumer Watchdog noted that NHTSA is expected to release autonomous vehicle policy “guidance” any day.  

“Guidance is meaningless and will be ignored by companies when it suits them,” said Simpson. “This second fatal crash and the following cover-up demonstrates the need for real enforceable standards.  NHTSA needs to start a rulemaking covering autonomous vehicle technologies.”

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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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