Last year Tesla pledged to release a vehicle safety report alongside their quarterly updates. This includes stating how often Tesla Autopilot accidents occur compared with the NHTSA stats and Tesla’s own “Autopilot Off” data. Compared to last quarter, we’re seeing a significant increase in accidents both with Autopilot on and off.
In the 4th quarter, we registered one accident for every 2.91 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot, we registered one accident for every 1.58 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 436,000 miles.
For comparison, last quarter Tesla reported a accident or “crash-like events” every 3.34 million miles with Autopilot engaged. With it off, one every 1.92 million miles driven.
In their most recent report, Tesla once again reinstated the fact that their cars are, according to them, the safest vehicles in the world. Although it might possibly be true, there is more to the story. NHTSA’s data includes that from all vehicle categories, including bikes, which hold one of the highest accident and death rates. There’s no way to truly know how safe Teslas are compared with the rest of the market unless every manufacturer starts releasing their own vehicle safety reports.
At Tesla, we believe that technology can help improve safety. That’s why Tesla vehicles are engineered to be the safest cars in the world.
So why the sudden rise in accidents? With Teslas rapid expansion and ever updating Autopilot features, there are many factors to consider. Since the initial report, Tesla has sold almost 100,000 more cars and released their Navigate on Autopilot feature to the masses.
It could be a simple case of S & X owners, who hold the majority of Teslas, are just generally being better drivers. According to that theory, as Model 3 deliveries rise, so will accident rates. Model 3 owners are after all known to rack up more miles in a faster amount of time. More Model 3s are used as daily drivers and as a result are more likely driven through everyday rush-hour traffic, thus increasing the chances of an accident.
Navigate on Autopilot was also released recently. An Autopilot feature allowing your car to change lanes by itself with confirmation. Although added in good intention, to expand Autopilots capabilities, owners for the most part find it a tad bit more dangerous than traditional Autopilot.
The accident rate might have increased even higher than initially stated. In Q3, they reported all accidents or “crash-like” events. Crash-like events being near misses. In the Q4 report, Tesla excluded the “crash like event” line making us wonder how much of an increase has actually occurred in the last 3 months. We’ve reached out to Tesla for comment.
It is definitely a good thing that Tesla is being open with their accident data. I just wish they’d post some more honest comparisons rather than generalizing all vehicles with NHTSA data.