On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it is launching an investigation into 50,000 Tesla Model X vehicles following two complaints about front seat belt failures. The probe will involve 2022-2023 model year vehicles and will focus on reports of the front seat belt disconnecting from the seat belt anchor while driving, as per a preliminary evaluation by the safety regulators.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that it is launching an investigation into 50,000 Tesla Model X vehicles following two complaints about front seat belt failures. The probe will involve 2022-2023 model-year vehicles and will focus on reports of the front seat belt disconnecting from the seat belt anchor while driving.
According to the agency, both incidents involving the newer vehicles were not related to collisions with occupants wearing seat belts. The NHTSA received a complaint from Larkspur, California, where a Tesla was traveling at a speed of 10 to 15 miles per hour when the auto braking system engaged due to a driver’s door on a parked large truck unexpectedly opening. As a result of the sudden deceleration, the upper body of the driver was thrown forward, causing the seat belt anchor on the lower seat to detach entirely. The other complaint involved a Tesla Model X in Westborough, Massachusetts, where the driver claimed the front seat belt disconnected from the seat belt anchor during normal driving. In both cases, the NHTSA determined that the anchor linkages were insufficiently connected.
The NHTSA has opened a preliminary evaluation into the matter, and it must decide whether to upgrade it to an engineering analysis before it can demand a recall. If the NHTSA decides that there is a safety defect, it can order a recall of the affected vehicles. Tesla will be required to fix the issue at no cost to the owners of the vehicles. The seat belt is a critical safety component in any vehicle, and failure to keep the occupant restrained during a collision can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. This investigation highlights the importance of ensuring that all safety components in a vehicle are functioning correctly and are appropriately designed.
Tesla has been under scrutiny from the NHTSA in the past. In 2016, the agency investigated a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S operating on Autopilot. The NHTSA concluded that the Autopilot system did not contain any defects that contributed to the crash. However, the agency did make several recommendations to Tesla to improve the system’s safety, such as providing more information to drivers about the system’s limitations.