Tesla's 'Aggressive' Autonomous Mode Facilitates Lawbreaking

Some Tesla autonomous modes direct the vehicle to engage in dangerous and illegal behaviors, prompting calls for increased regulation of autonomous vehicle tech.

January 19, 2022, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Tesla

Tinxi / Shutterstock

According to an article by Streetsblog's Kea Wilson, Tesla is equipping its vehicles with a feature that lets drivers choose "how aggressively the vehicle applies many of its automated safety features on U.S. roads," essentially allowing the car to break common traffic laws under its "assertive" driving mode.

The rollout went largely unnoticed by street safety advocates until a Jan. 9 article in The Verge, when journalist Emma Roth revealed that putting a Tesla in 'assertive' mode will effectively direct the car to tailgate other motorists, perform unsafe passing maneuvers, and roll through certain stops ('average' mode isn’t much safer). All those behaviors are illegal in most U.S. states, and experts say there’s no reason why Tesla shouldn’t be required to program its vehicles to follow the local rules of the road, even when drivers travel between jurisdictions with varying safety standards.

The revelation concerns road safety advocates who say the company is endangering riders and pedestrians by allowing the cars to roll through stops and red lights. Wilson attributes this in large part to the fact that "by and large, U.S. law tends to favor penalizing individual drivers for breaking the law, rather than penalizing car manufacturers whose vehicle designs make breaking those laws easy," pointing to the lack of regulations for vehicles that can travel at speeds far beyond any legal speed limits

Meanwhile, a complicated regulatory landscape puts autonomous vehicle technology in a challenging gray area, with some states attempting to pass laws that hold carmakers responsible for safety failures, while others are supporting more autonomous vehicle testing on their streets with statutes that shield manufacturers from liability.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 in Streetsblog USA

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

Montreal, Quebec

Urban Design, Transport, and Health

The Lancet medical journal published a series of articles that explore how to evaluate and guide urban planning decisions to create healthy and sustainable cities. Live long and prosper!

May 20 - The Lancet - Urban Design, Transport, and Health

MoGo Bikeshare Bikes

Detroit Bike Share Celebrates Five Years

In its five years of operation, Detroit’s MoGo bikeshare has added electric and adaptive bikes to its fleet of more than 600 bikes.

May 20 - MoGo

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.