Following up on the letters that were sent by the Norwegian riders’ organisation NMCU to the Norwegian transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and Tesla boss Elon Musk, Dutch motorcyclists’ organizations Motorrijders Actie Groep Nederland (MAG NL) and Koninklijke Nederlandse Motorrijders Vereniging (KNMV) together with FEMA sent a letter to RDW, the Netherlands Vehicle Authority.
Riders’ organisations in Europe and FEMA are worried for some time about the way car manufacturers implement driver assist systems in their products. Accidents, studies and evasive answers to questions asked by FEMA indicate that these systems are not properly tested, and certainly not with motorcycles. The European Transport Safety Council ETSC published a report in April 2016 in which the risks of insufficient tested autonomous systems and over-the-air software updates were mentioned. They also stated: “there is an urgent need to put in place certain prerequisites prior to the wider deployment of automated vehicles in Europe”.
A recent accident in Norway in which a young female rider, a Tesla on ‘autopilot’ and two other cars were involved showed that the riders have a reason to be worried. This was confirmed by tests that were performed by the German organisation BASt, which lead to the conclusion that the Tesla system is potentially dangerous in traffic, and by a recent letter in which the German Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) requested Tesla to stop using the expression ‘autopilot’, because it is severely misleading.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has formally issued a draft regulation that demands Tesla cease and desist from using the terms ‘self-driving’, ‘automated’, or ‘autopilot’ when it comes to advertising its vehicles, unless they are capable of driving themselves without any human backup.
Since the European whole vehicle type approval for Tesla is issued by the Dutch RDW, we decided to join forces with KNMV and MAG NL to ensure that motorcycles, in fact all two-wheelers, can use our roads without being hit from behind by a malfunctioning Tesla or other vehicle with a poorly tested automatic emergency breaking system.
The first step to ensure this is to ask questions about the testing with two-wheelers to RDW and demand that no vehicles are allowed on our roads that are not properly tested and tested with all kind of two-wheelers, including motorcycles. A copy of the letter to RDW is also sent to the Dutch minister of transport and to the Dutch parliament.
Dolf Willigers, General Secretary of FEMA, commented: “It cannot be that motorcyclists have to fear for their life because car manufacturers skip (part of) the testing phase in an attempt to outrun their competitors, or that our children cannot cycle to school anymore because unreliable car driver assist systems are allowed on public roads for political reasons. We really have to stop this.”
Tesla photo: James Tensuan