Tesla drivers report a surge in ‘phantom braking’

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Owners say their cars are suddenly slamming the brakes at high speeds, nearly causing crashes in many cases

SAN FRANCISCO — Teslas are unexpectedly slamming on their brakes in response to imagined hazards — such as oncoming traffic on two-lane roads — which has prompted their terrified owners to lodge a surge of complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past three months, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal auto safety data.

The phenomenon, known as “phantom braking,” has been a persistent issue for Tesla vehicles.

The automaker was forced to recall a version of its Full Self-Driving software in October over false positives to its automatic emergency-braking system that it said were triggered by the software update. Complaints soared after the recall and remain elevated, signaling continued owner concern.