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Letters to the Editor: Should recalled ‘Full Self-Driving’ Teslas be allowed on the road?

Tesla vehicles plugged in at a Supercharger station
Tesla vehicles charge up at a station in Burbank last week.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: I have not been able to understand why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the state of California have been so lenient with Tesla thumbing its nose at safety regulations concerning its so-called Full Self-Driving software.

In The Times’ reporting on the recall of this software, I just read the first logical explanation: Both are concerned that Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk would simply sue them and further delay any fixes to the vehicles on our highways with this unsafe feature.

I think this may well indicate that Musk’s statement that whether this software succeeds “is the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero,” is true, and that he is betting on zero.

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Gordon J . Louttit, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: At 80 years old, I can attest to the safety of my Tesla Model 3.

Thanks to my Autopilot system, I was able to swerve to safety last summer when an oncoming car crossed the double line at 55 mph. This experience convinced me that testing the software for semiautonomous driving is worth it, as it already drives better than I do.

Waiting for autonomous driving to be 100% perfect is counterproductive, as the complexities involved may mean we never achieve it. I believe that 99% is good enough, and I am willing to contribute to making this technology even safer.

While improving highway infrastructure, stopping drunk drivers, enforcing traffic laws and reducing distracted driving are essential to road safety, we should not dismiss or slow the enormous potential of autonomous driving to save lives and reduce crashes.

Robert Samuelson, Marina del Rey

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To the editor: It should be obvious that the NHTSA’s real mission is to provide cover to car manufacturers that can state they comply with all federal safety requirements while putting increasingly unsafe vehicles on the road.

The highest speed limit in the U.S. is 85 mph; there is absolutely no reason to allow vehicles to be sold that can easily go faster. The European Union will soon require new cars to carry technology that warns drivers when they are exceeding the posted speed limit, yet the NHTSA hasn’t even mentioned implementing that in the U.S.

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California has laws to determine if a handgun is “safe” and can be sold here. Surely the state can implement similar laws for automobiles. After all, California made it illegal for guns to hold more than 10 rounds, so why can’t it make it illegal to own a vehicle that can exceed the highest speed limit by more than 20 mph?

Jim Winterroth, Torrance

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