Tesla Recalls Over 50,000 Vehicles to Remove “Rolling Stop” Feature; Facing Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As federal safety regulators continue to investigate the safety of Tesla’s autopilot feature, the electric car manufacturer recently recalled about 53,000 vehicles because of issues with the “rolling stop” software. When the vehicle fails to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, it increases the risk of a crash.

Meanwhile, an Arizona man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla in the Superior Court of the State of California, Santa Clara County. He blames the automaker for his wife’s death.

Tesla Recalls Vehicles Equipped with Rolling Stop Function

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Tesla reported its recall of 53,822 vehicles on January 27, 2022. The recall affects the following vehicles:

  • Certain 2016-2022 Model S and Model X
  • 2017-2022 Model 3
  • 2020-2022 Model Y

The problem is the “rolling stop” feature, which was released via an over-the-air update to the affected vehicles on October 20, 2020. The vehicles had to be traveling below 5.6 miles per hour and detecting no relevant moving cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists near the intersection. The feature required drivers to opt-in for what was dubbed the “assertive” mode, but it drew negative attention on social media as it appeared to violate state laws requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop.

This drew the NHTSA’s attention. Tesla met with NHTSA staff on January 10th and January 19th, according to Reuters, to discuss the functionality of the software. On January 20th, Tesla agreed to the recall but stated it was not aware of any collisions, injuries, or fatalities related to the issue.

The automaker will perform an over-the-air software update that disables the rolling stop functionality, free of charge. It is also sending notification letters to owners on March 28, 2022. For more information, consumers can contact Tesla customers service at 1-877-798-3752.

The NHTSA opened an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system last August after several crashes occurred involving Tesla models. That investigation is ongoing.

Woman Dies in Crash—Husband Blames Tesla’s Autopilot Feature

Meanwhile, in a new Tesla lawsuit filed February 2, 2022, the plaintiff claims that he and his wife were traveling from Arizona to Maryland on December 29, 2019. The plaintiff was driving his 2019 Tesla Model 3, using the vehicle’s autosteer and traffic-aware cruise control features—what Tesla calls its Autopilot system.

About 8:11 a.m., the couple crashed into the rear of a fire truck that was stopped in the left lane of westbound I-70 near the 38-mile marker in Putnam County, Indiana. The fire truck was there responding to the scene of an earlier accident. The plaintiff’s wife died in the crash.

The plaintiff, due to injuries sustained in the crash, has been discharged from the Air Force where he worked as a cryptographic language analyst. His injuries included nine fractures, and he’s had to have a rod implanted in his back.

The plaintiff argues that Tesla’s claims about its self-driving vehicles are false and that the company deliberately “blurs the distinction between whether its automation system is merely a ‘driver assist’ system or an autonomous system that doesn’t require the driver’s constant attention.”

He notes that in 2018, the Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog wrote to the then FTC Chairman urging the FTC to investigate Tesla’s deceptive and unfair practices in advertising and marketing of Autopilot. They renewed that request in 2019 following additional fatal incidents with Tesla vehicles.