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It's easy to game Tesla's Safety Score system, owners say

YouTube tutorials will happily show you how to earn a perfect Safety Score -- a mandatory element to gain access to the Full Self-Driving beta.

Always be responsible with these kinds of systems.

Tesla

Tesla owners using the company's Full Self-Driving beta have great responsibility on their hands. The Level 2 driver-assist system, as defined by the SAE Scale of Autonomy, is not actually self-driving and requires a human driver to pay attention at all times -- and Tesla's trying to allow only the most responsible folks into its beta program. Except it's pretty simple for anyone who ponies up $10,000 to earn a perfect Safety Score, the metric Tesla is using to grant access.

Vice on Wednesday first reported on a handful of YouTube videos and a since-deleted Reddit post that guide drivers through the steps to earn the coveted perfect Safety Score (which is also used for Tesla Insurance, by the way). One way is to simply not send the driving behavior data to Tesla; another is to restart the process entirely.

Tesla drivers have the option to hold down both scroll-wheel buttons on the steering wheel to wipe the car's Media Control Unit. This also wipes the data used for the Safety Score. If the driver does something inappropriate, or even if they make a minor boo-boo while driving, they can erase it before Tesla even calculates the potential ding to a Safety Score.

Another option is to cancel out how Tesla weighs these scores. If a driver can't erase the data soon enough, another owner discovered a way to balance it out. If a Tesla driver does earn a blemish on their score, this owner discovered something as simple as accelerating quickly from a stop sign and then riding the brakes gently for as long as possible began to make up for earlier poor driving behavior and got their score back up to 100.

If none of that's favorable to an owner, yet another Tesla driver found out anyone can just start over. All it takes is to exit the FSD beta and driving while opted out for a short period of time. Then, you only need to shut the car off, fire it back up and rejoin the beta program. Voila, the Safety Score resets.

Although the latest FSD beta update activates a camera to monitor driver behavior and stop FSD from engaging if a driver isn't paying attention, it's clear the system still has loopholes. There are no self-driving cars on sale today, and until we reach a point of true autonomy, it's important to understand anyone on the road is a part of the experiment.

We would reach out to Tesla for comment on these owners' actions, but the carmaker does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.

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