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Tesla's Growing Fleet is Getting Safer Even Without Autopilot

by Claribelle Deveza January 23, 2020


Tesla’s growing fleet seems to be getting safer, even without the use of Autopilot. Tesla enthusiast Kevin Rooke shared Tesla vehicles’ safety growth from 2018 to 2019 in a recent tweet. The numbers suggest that the safety Tesla owners experience hasn’t hampered the safety of the all-electric car maker’s fleet even as it continues to grow. 

“Tesla vehicles are between 3.4x and 6.4x safer than the average vehicle on the road,” tweeted Tesla enthusiast Kevin Rooke. In his tweet, he compared Tesla’s Q4 2018 safety stats against Q4 2019, as seen below. 

As seen in Rooke's comparison, the number of vehicle crashes per million miles for Teslas with Autopilot switched on have decreased year-over-year. This happened as the number of Teslas also increased significantly. By Q4 2019 alone, Tesla delivered 367,500 vehicles, which, according to the tech company's end-of-year earnings report, was 50 percent more deliveries than 2018. 

With that in mind, the number of crashes per million miles with Tesla’s growing fleet seems to be staying well below the national average in the United States. For some perspective, the national average in Q4 2018 was one vehicle crash every 436,000 miles. In Q4 2019, the NHTSA reported that there was a vehicle crash every 479,000 miles nationally.

The stats for Teslas with active safety on and without active safety seemed similar to those with Autopilot. With active safety, the all-electric car maker’s year-over-year stats improved. The same is true for crashes for cars without active safety turned on. Again, this increase happened as Tesla’s presence in United States roads grew.

Tesla has been dealing with accusations brought against it by short-seller Brian Sparks, who claimed that the EV tech company’s vehicles suffered from an unintended acceleration defect. The claim threatened Tesla’s title as one of the safest cars on the market.

According to the NY Post, Sparks filed a petition against Tesla, which urged the NHTSA to recall all S, 3, X vehicles ever produced and sold between 2013 to 2019. Such a petition would be catastrophic for Tesla if the NHTSA did approve it. 

Fortunately, Tesla was able to prove Sparks’ claims were wrong through sheer data collected from its fleet. “…the car accelerates if, and only if, the driver told it to do so, and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake,” explained the EV tech company.

Tesla hacker Jason Hughes supported the all-electric car company’s defense after sifting through the data himself. In an interview with Inside EVs, Hughes said, “To that end, I've examined logs from 29 accident vehicles to date, 19 of which were unintended third-party acceleration related – several for direct customers, over a dozen for a particular insurance company. One hundred percent of them were pedal misapplication.”

Hughes has been a longtime Tesla critic, but stood with the EV automaker against Sparks’ claims: 

“While Tesla is far from perfect, the powertrain control setup, specifically related to these sudden acceleration claims, is something they deserve a lot of credit on. It's a solid system, with a ton of thought, put into how to make it as safe as possible,” he said. 

Featured Image Credit: Euro NCAP

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