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Report: California teen fails driving test due to Tesla regenerative braking

The regenerative braking system in a Tesla Model 3 decelerates when the driver takes their foot off of the pedal to accelerate.

GILROY, Calif. — The California Department of Motor Vehicles is reworking the way it conducts driving tests after a teen driver flunked his test due to the car's braking system.

According to a report from CBS station KPIX, Bryce Rosenblum took his driving test with a DMV instructor on Nov. 23 in California. Driving his Tesla Model 3, Rosenblum said he did everything that a normal test would have in it, but the DMV instructor told him he failed. 

The instructor said the regenerative braking system inside of the electric car was doing the work for him.

"Right off the bat, she warns me that the car was slowing down on its own, like at a stop sign," Rosenblum told KPIX. "And she told me that happened twice before we even left the parking lot. And then we continue on the test. We did everything that a test is supposed to have in it. And then she then pulled me in and told me I failed."

The teen said the regenerative braking system was set in standard mode at the time of the test and the DMV instructor did not tell him to deactivate the braking system. 

The regenerative braking system in a Tesla Model 3 decelerates when the driver takes their foot off of the pedal to accelerate. While it's braking, the system recaptures the car's kinetic energy and charges the battery. Thus, the electric car reportedly comes to a brake without the driver actually stepping on the pedal.

Rosenblum told KPIX that the instructor wrote a note in the comment section of the test that said, "Applicant did not slow car. Only put foot on brake after car was slowed and stopping."

In response, the teen awaiting a driver's license asked what he should do in the future in order to pass the test and Rosenblum said the instructor told him to use a different car that has an engine, not an electric car. 

Rosenblum's father, Neal Rosenblum, complained to the local DMV office and it reached the supervisor and regional manager. Turns out, the Rosenblums are not the only family experiencing this problem with electric cars and driving tests. 

In a statement to KPIX, the DMV's Public Affairs Office explained that the DMV has issued guidance to staff related to the use of electric vehicles with regenerative braking systems, and staff should not use the regenerative braking system as the sole reason to score a driving error or critical driving error. 

Neal Rosenblum said he appreciated how swiftly the DMV moved to fix the issue behind his son's failed driving test.