Tesla cars using driver-assist systems are significantly less likely to crash than Waymo, Transdev, and GM's Cruise, according to NHTSA's data. Although the regulator's data only show the number of accidents, without taking into account the size of the fleet and the miles are driven, such a conclusion is obvious with a little digging into the details.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released Wednesday crash data for the past nine months involving vehicles using driver-assistance technologies such as Tesla, Waymo, Transdev, and GM's Cruise. The regulator found that there were 367 accidents in the past nine months involving vehicles using these driver assistance technologies.
Overall data, without any context, show that 273 incidents were related to systems used in Tesla cars. 62 crashes were reported from Waymo. Transdev, the shuttle operator, reported 34 accidents, while Cruise, which offers robotic taxis for General Motors in San Francisco, reported 23.
It should be noted that the data presented is completely missing critical context such as fleet size or miles are driven, making it impossible to fairly compare the safety of the different technologies. In addition, of all manufacturers, only Tesla is aware of accidents immediately, while other manufacturers receive them after several months, or may never receive information from a customer who has been involved in an accident. Therefore, the data are absolutely unreliable, as they do not reflect the real situation at all. Therefore, be careful when reading high-profile media headlines claiming that Tesla vehicles are more likely to get into accidents than others on the market. A little digging into the details shows that the systems used by Tesla show the highest safety among all those present on the market today.
“I would advise caution before attempting to draw conclusions based only on the data we're releasing. In fact, the data alone may raise more questions than they answer,” NHTSA administrator Steven Cliff told reporters in a briefing Tuesday.
Although the critical context is difficult to add, since there is no public access to the exact number of vehicles of each manufacturer on US roads, as well as miles driven, which plays a critical role, I will try to give some data to make the results easier to understand.
Waymo's official fleet was just 600 units in 2021, according to Financial Time. Transdev's global fleet consists of 24,600 buses in 13 countries, according to the company's website. However, data on the size of the US fleet is not available. The size of GM's Cruise fleet is about 34,000, according to the company. In fact, each of the above manufacturers has a tiny fleet when compared to Tesla.
As of March 2022, Tesla had 1,393,122 vehicles on US roads, according to GoodCarBadCar data. Clearly, no other manufacturer can even come close to matching Tesla, so it becomes obvious that its vehicles using driver-assist systems are much less likely to crash than vehicles with similar systems from any other manufacturer on the market. In fact, compared to others, the probability of getting into an accident with a Tesla car is minuscule, as it is less than 0.02%. Meanwhile, when using Waymo, this probability is around 10%. In the case of GM's Cruise, given the available data, this probability is around 0,07%. To be clear, these percentages are derived from dividing US fleet count by number of incidents, from the presented data.
It remains to be seen why the NHTSA, which has access to data on how many vehicles each manufacturer has in the US market, chose to completely decontextualize published data about accidents. This action leaves room for inexperienced or inattentive consumers to draw the wrong conclusions and gives power to unscrupulous media to easily mislead their readers.
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