Popular electric vehicle maker Tesla has been teasing its Full Self Driving (FSD) feature for years. The company pushed out its latest version to about 400,000 customers as of early 2023, according to InsideEVs.
However, there is reason to be concerned that the self-driving Teslas are unsafe for users, pedestrians, and other drivers on the roads. The company was forced to recall the majority of its FSD models after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the feature could pose a “crash risk.”
And now, a disturbing report from the Washington Post has found that the Tesla users themselves are making these already potentially dangerous vehicles even more unsafe by using products called “steering wheel weights” or simply “wheel weights” to trick the function that requires them to pay attention while driving.
The current iteration of Tesla’s FSD feature requires drivers to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. But apparently, many Tesla customers feel that they are above such things and have started purchasing special weights that attach to the steering wheel in order to trick the car. Such devices are widely available on Amazon and Alibaba, according to the Post’s reporting.
Wheel weights have already been involved in at least two incidents: one where a Tesla plowed into a teenager getting off a school bus in North Carolina, causing severe injuries, and another where a Tesla user in Germany fell asleep at the wheel and ended up leading police on a chase, per the Post article.
This is in addition to all the accidents that self-driving Teslas have caused even when users were apparently following the rules. Another report by the Washington Post revealed that Teslas using driver assistance (not necessarily all in FSD mode) have already been involved in a shocking 736 crashes and 17 fatalities over the relatively short course of their existence.
According to one expert, the misbehavior from Tesla users is unsurprising considering the fact that Tesla founder Elon Musk misled them with one of his signature over-promises.
“Elon Musk’s saying it’s supposed to drive itself. That’s what they’re going to hear,” Carnegie Mellon University professor Philip Koopman, who studies autonomous vehicle safety, told the Post. “How do you think they’re going to behave?”
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