Why the Second Tesla Model S Unintended Acceleration Complaint is Still Absolutely Meaningless

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 22

Unintended Acceleration Complaints Compiled in 2010

Unintended Acceleration Complaints Compiled in 2010 – Source: Edmunds

Now widely reported, a Tesla Model S supposedly had some “unintended acceleration,” which led to it jumping a curb and landing on top of a 4.5-foot high retaining wall.

Unintended Acceleration Complaints Filed With the NHTSA by Model - Source: Edmunds

Unintended Acceleration Complaints Filed With the NHTSA by Model – Source: Edmunds

It seems miraculous to us that this 4,647.3-pound electric vehicle jumped 4.5 feet into the air.

What’s even more suspect is that it jumped that high after hitting a curb that’s one foot away from the retaining wall.  We’re still trying got picture this in our heads, but try as we might, we just can’t find this plausible.

Regardless, several media outlets are reporting that a formal unintended acceleration complaint, citing the culprit as the Tesla Model S, has been filed with the NHTSA.

It’s one complaint fellas…cut the Model S some slack.

Why’s this “news?”  It’s obviously not, but it’s an electric vehicle, so you can bet that media outlets will jump at the chance to pounce.

Here’s the formal complaint in its entirety:

Date Complaint Filed: 09/24/2013

Component(s): ELECTRICAL SYSTEM , ENGINE , SERVICE BRAKES
Date of Incident: 09/21/2013
NHTSA ID Number: 10545230

Crash: Yes

The car was going at about 5 mph going down a short residential driveway. Brake was constantly applied. The car suddenly accelerated. It hit a curb and the middle portion of the car landed on a 4.5 ft high vertical retaining wall. The wall is one foot away from the curb. The front portion of the car was hanging up in the air. The car was at about 45 degree up and about 20 degree tilted toward the right side. An engineer from Tesla said the record showed the accelerating pedal was stepped on and it accelerated from 18% to 100% in split second. He blamed my wife stepping on the accelerating pedal. But he also said there was a built-in safe-guard that the accelerator could not go beyond 92%. The statements are contradictory. If there is a safeguard that the accelerator cannot go beyound (not our typo this time…we promise) 92%, there would be no way that my wife could step on it 100%. There were some mechanical problem that caused the accelerator to accelerate on its own from 18% to 100% in split second.

We’ll ignore most of what’s mentioned in the complaint for good reason.  Anyone…yes anyone…can file a complaint on the NHTSA’s website.  More specifically, I could file an “unintended acceleration” complaint for my Tesla Model S that I don’t even own.  Heck, I could file a complaint against the Tesla Model S you may or may not own (VIN is not required when filing a complaint).

These complaints have ZERO value until vetted.  If the NHTSA determines that the complaint is valid, then it will respond, but it won’t do so over a single complaint.  Just take a look at the graphic to your right and you’ll see tons of vehicles 1 unintended acceleration complaint, none of which have been recalled for that reason or even further investigated by the NHTSA.

But is this the first time a Tesla Model S has been blamed for “unintended acceleration.”  Heck no…the darn thing is so powerful it unintentionally accelerates all the time and whoops all sorts of other vehicles in the process…On a more serious note, one Model S plowed the side of a restaurant approximately 6 months ago.  The driver initially blamed it on “unintended acceleration.”  A complaint was never filed, most likely because the driver knew there was no merit to her claim.

These “unintended acceleration” cases pop up all the time.  InsideEVs uses magical/sarcastic math to peg the accuracy of those claims at something likes 0.016%, meaning they’re almost always inaccurate and that the driver is often to blame.

Gas pedal…accelerator pedal…realizing the difference between the two must be rather difficult.

In closing, while we understand why some major media outlets find it necessary to spread this propaganda, it pains us to see green sites follow along.  Our duty is to crush the spreading of falsities related to electric vehicles.  It’s not our responsibility to pass on misinformation.

Graphics Source: Edmunds

Source: AutoblogGreen

Unintended Acceleration Complaints Filed With the NHTSA by Make - Source: Edmunds

Unintended Acceleration Complaints Filed With the NHTSA by Make – Source: Edmunds

Car Hits Retaining Wall

Car Hits Retaining Wall

Car Hits Retaining Wall

Car Hits Retaining Wall

Car On Retaining Wall...But as Part of Landscape Design

Car On Retaining Wall…But as Part of Landscape Design

SUV Climbs Retaining Wall

SUV Climbs Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall Ready to Hit Unsuspecting Car

Retaining Wall Ready to Hit Unsuspecting Car – Looks to Be About 4.5 Feet Tall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 responses to "Why the Second Tesla Model S Unintended Acceleration Complaint is Still Absolutely Meaningless"

  1. Nelson says:

    Truth is most unintended acceleration claims are caused by UFO tractor beams trying to pull cars they want as specimen. 🙂

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

  2. Jeff D says:

    It is unintended acceleration. They didn’t intend on hitting the accelerator and driving their car up a wall.

  3. Bic says:

    There are plenty of lousy drivers that keep one foot on the brake and one on the accelerator at all times. I’m guessing this driver is one of them.

  4. kdawg says:

    Collision avoidance sensors.. (you’re welcome).

  5. MDEV says:

    How old i your wife?

  6. saabluster says:

    “It seems miraculous to us that this 4,647.3-pound electric vehicle jumped 4.5 feet into the air.”

    Well he never said the car jumped up. Why would you assume that? Seems clear they were on top and drove over the edge. I’m all for crushing EV falsities but creating falsities of your own is not going to help the cause.

    1. Roy_H says:

      From the complaint “The car was at about 45 degree up and about 20 degree tilted toward the right side.”

      Doesn’t seem to be a description of a car overhanging a drop off. Where did you get your information that the driveway was above the retaining wall?

  7. DavidN says:

    This calls to mind an incident I’ve had with my Model S. On two occasions, I’ve inadvertently pressed both brake and “gas” pedal at the same time (with the same foot.)

    I have big feet (size 13), and the right side of my foot was hanging off the right edge of the brake pedal, and impinged on the left edge of the “gas” pedal when I pressed down on the brake. In both cases, I was making a fairly energetic stop, so the brake pedal was depressed more than in normal every-day braking.

    In both cases, the unintended extra power from the motor noticeably increased the stopping distance, which led to some momentary concern–not panic–that I would be able to stop in time.

    In both cases, a warning chime sounded. I later determined that there’s also a visual warning on the screen behind the steering wheel when both pedals are pressed simultaneously. (I was too involved in trying to stop to notice it at the time.)

    Tesla should fix this. Just disable the “gas” pedal when the brake is applied. There’s no conceivable situation where you need both brake and “gas” simultaneously. (Except maybe drag racing; Drag Times used the both-pedals take-off technique when they tested the Model S, and it probably helped them get a time even faster than Tesla claims. (You can hear the chime and see the warning in the video of the test run.)

    Or move the pedals farther apart. Or increase the vertical distance between them, so the brake pedal never gets down to the level of the “gas” pedal.

    All this, of course has nothing to do with unintended acceleration. Clearly, the driver was pressing on the accelerator when she thought she was on the brake. It happens all the time.

    1. Dave R says:

      Doesn’t Tesla disable the accelerator after a second or two when both pedals are pressed?

      1. kdawg says:

        I was trying to think if there would be a good way to move either the accelerator or brake to hand controls, but can’t think of anything w/out foreseeable problems. Even something where you could pull the wheel back to brake, or squeeze the wheel, I don’t think would work in all situations. I know some handicap vehicles have hand controls, but this would have to be something that worked well and was acceptable to everyone.

        1. kdawg says:

          Oh was going to mention, the Cadillac ELR did implement regen pedals. I wonder how well they would work as a complete braking system?

  8. saabluster says:

    Sadly I expect Tesla to get more of these complaints than the average car due to the immediacy of pedal response and the immense power of the car. The slight delays in an ICE car’s drive line and lower torque levels lower down in the rev range is more likely to give the brain a chance to realize a pedal misapplication and respond accordingly. Push the wrong pedal in the Tesla and the next thing you know you are in a wall.

  9. Dan Frederiksen says:

    Let’s not assume either way just yet.

    As cars become increasingly computerized, as a car maker you almost need to log multiple independent channels for each control so you can determine whether the user did it or the computer had gone rogue.

    It would also be interesting to know what percentage were women drivers. If there is a strong bias towards women drivers that might be an indicator that it’s user error. I know that’s not terribly PC to say but there seems to be statistical evidence that some women have a harder time managing machinery.

  10. Tesla Fan says:

    the fact that both of these unintended accelerations incident drivers were females is pretty hilarious, and incredibly hard to believe LOL

    1. Dan Frederiksen says:

      how dare you 🙂

  11. Roy_H says:

    “Tesla should fix this. Just disable the “gas” pedal when the brake is applied.”

    Agreed, simple and obvious solution to this particular problem. However I have witnessed an occasion where the driver panicked, and hit the gas pedal instead of the brake in an emergency situation. This in a parking lot hitting the car she intended to avoid. I read about one where a kid was killed.

  12. Roy_H says:

    My take. The driver had her foot on the brake, but not centered, half off the right side. She bumped into the curb, and her foot slipped off the brake and on to the accelerator.

  13. I was witness to an unintended acceleration. It’s not just normal user error. It’s partly misdirected panic reflex action. And people are convinced even after the fact that they didn’t press the accelerator for the same reason they pressed it so hard in the first place. They crossed signals in their brain. Loss of context. Kills GA pilots fairly regularly.

    In the case I witnessed, I was in the front passenger seat. My daughter was a student driver. We were backing out of the garage. It was a bit awkward at that house. We paused to ensure and discuss clearance. Upon resuming, my daughter tapped the accellerator, got a little more movement then she had intended, and then stabbed the acceleration wide open throttle
    in a wild movement. Although I managed to very quickly set the hand brake in an almost reflexive action, she still managed to smash into the wall. The hand brake kept us from ending up strattling a pony wall just like those classic photos. (*Thank you* BMW for fitting grand brakes instead of drivers side pedals!)

    So I understand very well how this kind of thing happens. Her brain was absolutely certain that she was pushing down hard on the brake. And that certainty was way below the level of conciousness.

    And if you have ever observed someone in that situation – in any context – you know how hard it is to convince them otherwise. Because their reality frame has already been set. Same trick an illusionist uses. And people are just dumbfounded. While someone standing to the side who can see the trick understands very well what just happened.

    Note that the lady who recently crashed this Tesla was new to and unfamiliar with this car. May have been wearing less than sensible shoes. But was probably no more or less fallible than any other person with a driving certificate. We can all be tricked by the same illusion. To believe otherwise is both arrogant and dangerous.

    Well trained and astute pilots will nod. Most will recall an NTSB report, if not a perished friend and colleague.

    New motto for the Tesla: “with great power comes great responsibility”.

  14. Steven says:

    So, how much longer until the manufactures add an under-dash camera that records the operators foot movements in an onboard black-box for their own “legal well being”?

    1. kdawg says:

      No need for a camera. They have the signals coming from the pedals.

  15. Nathan Weiss says:

    I totally agree that one or two complaints means nothing, but your article on the NUMBER of complaints also means nothing. In July, Toyota trumpeted the 10 millionth Camry sold in the U.S. over the past 11 years, the vast majority of which are still on the road. With 290 unintended acceleration complaints, this is a rate of 1 complaint per 34,482 vehicles.

    Tesla has had two UA complaints on 18,000 vehicles, or 1 per 9,000 vehicles.

    If we adjust for miles driven, the comparison would be much much worse for Tesla – but again, two complaints does not a defect make.