According to a recent Reuters article shared by Autoblog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently evaluating the risk related to multiple complaints from Tesla owners about a potential increase in phantom braking.
It seems the situation first came to light in a story reported by The Washington Post. The publication wrote earlier this week that Tesla owner-reported phantom braking saw an uptick in NHTSA complaints of late. More specifically, the organization saw 107 complaints over the last three months as compared to just 34 in the 22 months prior.
Phantom braking, which is just a fancy name for a car's technology initiating automatic braking suddenly and necessarily, has been an issue for Tesla for some time now. This is not to say that it's not also an issue among rival automakers, but Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta systems have been receiving additional attention from safety organizations recently.
This is due in part to the fact that Tesla eliminated radar from its cars, vowing to rely only on cameras going forward. Tesla's new vision-only approach appears to be working since the automaker regained its previously revoked recommendations from Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) after the cars with the vision-only technology were reevaluated following the elimination of radar.
That said CEO Elon Musk said in the past that the phantom braking problems should go away with the removal of the radar. However, it appears that hasn't happened, at least based on the number of recent complaints from reported Tesla owners. A spokesperson for NHTSA shared this week:
"NHTSA is aware of complaints received about forward collision avoidance and is reviewing them through our risk-based evaluation process. If the data show that a risk may exist, NHTSA will act immediately."
It's important to note, part of the reason NHTSA reported that it's aware of the complaints and will be looking at the data is that anyone can submit a complaint with the organization, whether or not it's true. Once the organization receives a number of related complaints, it typically opens a probe to learn more about the potential situation.
Tesla just recalled some 12,000 vehicles back in October of 2021 for similar issues. The company said that while it hadn't been alerted of any collisions caused by the problem, phantom braking has the potential to increase the chances of being rear-ended.