Consumer Reports Rates Tesla's Safety

by Gill D on October 29, 2020

Every quarter, EV manufacturer, Tesla publishes statistics on accidents that occurred in its fleet. Tesla monitors the distance driven, per accident, using the Autopilot feature enabled and disabled as well as the use of other accident prevention features. The results are interesting. In Q1 of 2020, driving with Autopilot enabled showed fewer accidents. Then in the subsequent quarter results, there were was a slight increase in incidents with Autopilot on. But bear in mind, the pandemic has taken hold and there could be a mix of factors that contribute to the differing results.

Tesla reports:

“In the 3rd quarter, we registered one accident for every 4.59 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 2.42 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.79 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 479,000 miles.”

Fortunately, crashes in Tesla are quite rare when driving responsibly and attentively.

The latest  Q3 report indicates that driving on the highway with Autopilot enabled, you’ll see an accident every 5.15 million highway miles, and every 1.7 million miles in the city miles. If you combine these in the 94-6 ratio, you to Tesla’s number of ‘once per 4.59 million total miles’.

With Autopilot disabled, you go 5.37 million highway miles between accidents, which is 4% better than with Autopilot on. But what is exactly defined as an accident? Tesla could be receiving data from its fleet whenever an airbag is released and the severity around the incident is not known. While it’s a modest margin, there are unknown variables on why there’s been a slight increase during the pandemic. It could be that people are more stressed, more hurried, not as attentive, or being too complacent with assisted-driving, but COVID-19 is certainly one phenomenon that’s being

However, Consumer Reports that were released shows Tesla’s Autopilot is rated second to GM’s Super Cruise explaining that Tesla’s performance was the best, but it did not have the camera-based driver monitoring that Super Cruise has to make sure the driver’s eyes are focused on the road.

The Consumer Report clearly feels having a camera to watch the driver’s eyes is essential for improved safety.

As explained in the Consumer Report: “Automakers also need to realize that the more capable they develop a system in terms of driver assistance, the greater the chances are that the driver might tune out and try to leave the driving to the car. That’s why driver monitoring is so critical, and should be an essential tool of any good active driving assistance system going forward.”  

Regardless, it is worth noting that being a good driver will would probably improve safety records instead of relying on functions and features to make sure the driver is driving properly.

Seems you can have all the gadgets in the world to improve safety, but it will always be the sole responsibility of the person behind the wheel. Until of course, we start seeing Tesla’s futuristic robotaxis and vehicles that Elon Musk said will one day not need a steering wheel. There’s a lot of perfection needed first to get to that point.

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