You may have noticed that the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, has been in the news this week for his takeover of the popular social network Twitter. It’s an eye popping $44 billion takeover that might have taken your eyes away from another Musk centered news story that could have significantly greater impact on your day to day life. Elon Musk’s Tesla brand autos had to recall a large number of vehicles due to safety concerns with their new “Boombox” feature which has the potential to lead to more New Haven pedestrian accidents.
In 2018 regulators began requiring that makers of hybrid and electric vehicles must include the functionality for their vehicles to play sounds that will alert pedestrians of it’s presence on the road at low speeds. Presumably this was done to protect pedestrians who may not be able to hear hybrid or electric vehicles coming due to their quiet mode of operation. This new functionality was put in place and was working well until Tesla added a new functionality called “Boombox” to many of it’s vehicles which allowed drivers to “delight pedestrians” with other sounds coming out of their car’s external speakers.
When the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating the “Boombox” functionality back in 2021 it determined that the functionality had the potential to drown out the sounds intended to alert pedestrians of the vehicle’s presence and therefore it became a safety hazard. The administration spent some time haggling with Tesla over the safety issues, but ultimately Tesla decided to voluntarily recall the vehicles and in February of 2021 released a firmware update that only allowed the “Boombox” functionality to be used by drivers who were parked, the update disabled the feature when the vehicles were in Drive, Neutral or Reverse.
Earlier this month Tesla added more models to the recall to receive the firmware update and comply with the agreement that they had reached with the NHTSA. The following models were recalled;
- 2020-2022 Tesla Model S sedans
- 2020-2022 Model X and Model Y SUV
- 2017-2022 Tesla Model 3 sedans
Interestingly the vehicle recalls were performed using over-the-air updates to the software that operates the car and owners were not required to go into the dealership to have the fix installed. This is becoming more and more common with recalls of vehicles that rely heavily on computers and connected technology to operate.
As a pedestrian it can be difficult to hear an electric vehicle or hybrid vehicle that may be passing down the street so it is of critical importance that you keep yourself from being distracted in order to avoid a New Haven pedestrian accident when out and about in the city. If you do get injured as a result of an accident involving an electric vehicle or hybrid vehicle you may need to speak with an attorney. Contact our office and one of our experienced attorneys will review your case and work with you to protect your long-term interests.